- Jan 22, 2006
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http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/jets/story/403366p-341625c.htmlHerm's truth is Chief concern
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - One of the constant themes of Herm Edwards' preaching during his five years with the Jets was that he always tells the truth, that a man is only as good as his word.
So, how does he reconcile insisting in November and then again the day after the 2005 season that he was not going to Kansas City - then less than a week later, with two years remaining on his Jets contract, he's got a four-year deal at more money to coach the Chiefs?
Was he lying?
"I go to bed every night and I sleep well," he said yesterday, sitting in the hotel lobby where the NFL is holding the league meetings. "I know what happened. I know the truth. When I spoke before I left there, I meant it. It didn't work out. When I addressed the team, I meant it. When I addressed the staff, I meant that. Things transpired after that. In simplest terms, I just felt, and the other party felt, that it was best that it went that way."
Major friction developed in the days after the Jets ended their 4-12 season. Edwards' relationship with the organization deteriorated. "When both parties discussed it, it was probably time for me to go somewhere else," he said.
He is a man of high principle and integrity, but he came off during the process like any greedy coach or player. Sources say Edwards was telling opposing coaches on the field before games at the end of the season he wanted out, something he denied yesterday. The way things played out, his credibility took a hit.
"People can say what they want," said Edwards, who previously had been reluctant to discuss any aspect of his departure. "No matter what you say, half the people believe it and half of them don't. I'm not going to worry about what people are thinking. They are going to think what they want to think. That's America."
The Jets were worn out by leaks, believing Edwards was the source, that he wanted to go to K.C. to replace his mentor, Dick Vermeil, or that he wanted a contract extension to provide security knowing the Jets were about to enter a rebuilding period. Edwards says he was telling the truth when he said the day after the season, "I'm happy to be the coach here and I want to be the coach here," and that he never asked the Jets for an extension.
Four teams searching for head coaches called the Jets to ask about his availability. Kansas City, where he held his first assistant coach's job and where he met his wife, was where he wanted to go. Surprisingly, Edwards never met with Jets owner Woody Johnson after the season and before he was hired by the Chiefs. They only spoke on the phone. They didn't see each other again until the combine in Indianapolis in late February.
Terry Bradway, later fired/demoted as Jets GM, cut a deal with his mentor, Carl Peterson, to trade him Edwards for a fourth-round pick, undervaluing a coach who had taken the Jets to the playoffs three times in five years. Edwards, a free agent when he came into the NFL in 1977, was not insulted getting traded for a second-day pick. He joked he told Peterson he paid too much.
Edwards was relaxed yesterday during a 30-minute conversation. He is reluctant to discuss specifics of his last week with the Jets and claims he did not sign a gag order preventing him from criticizing the Jets in order to gain his release. "It's not an earth-changing situation," he said. "It's not life or death. They have a new coach and they'll be okay."
He praised new coach Eric Mangini, doubted being 35 will work against him and suggested Bill Belichick will provide a good sounding board for Mangini, which is unlikely considering the Jets and Pats play in the same division.
Edwards bought Vermeil's condominium in Kansas City, in the same building Peterson lives, and plans to stay there for one year before buying a house. Edwards said he has a spot in his heart for the Jets. "I'm pulling for those guys until we have to play them," Edwards said.
That won't come until at least 2007, but he said he will be back at Giants Stadium this summer in a nationally televised preseason game against the Giants.
Coaches have a limited shelf life before their message doesn't get across to the players. Edwards reached that point with the Jets. He needed a new audience and they needed a new voice. He said he spoke to a "bunch" of his former players and none of them told him they felt betrayed.
His biggest regret with the Jets is "we didn't win a championship." In the end, the Jets wanted a new coach and Edwards wanted a new team. They got what they wanted even if neither party distinguished itself in the process.