30th June 02:02
McKay said to a national audience...
Falcons 'delighted' to have McKay as GM
Posted: Monday December 15, 2003 5:50PM;
Updated: Monday December 15, 2003 8:51PM
Rich McKay was the architect of the Buccaneers' championship team.
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) -- Rich McKay officially joined the Atlanta
Falcons as president and general manager Monday, less than a week after
leaving Tampa Bay because of a rift with coach Jon Gruden.
McKay said his relationship with Gruden had deteriorated so much that he
had to ask Tampa Bay executive vice president Joel Glazer to release him
from his contract.
"What it mainly came down to was Jon's vision of the football team and
how to build it -- that was different from mine," McKay said. "No
question about it, and I really became uncomfortable as to how do I
compromise this and how do I make it work and how do we build a
consensus? Because in the cap era, to the extent that you do make
mistakes, you will pay the piper."
McKay wanted Glazer, whose father Malcolm owns the Bucs, to understand
the situation was irreconcilable.
"You know, [Gruden] worked for five different teams," McKay said. "He
saw it done many different ways, but he was the head coach of the
Raiders. He was there for four years and he saw them win with a formula
that involved probably different approaches than we had taken in
Though McKay declined to discuss certain players and prospects in Tampa
Bay, he did not dispute that problems arose with Gruden when the Bucs
told star receiver Keyshawn Johnson to quit reporting to work last
Other issues that caused problems between McKay and Gruden were
different opinions on whether the club should sign former Oakland
defensive tackle Darrell Russell, who later joined the Washington
"It's not appropriate for the GM to constantly be the 'no' guy," McKay
said. "It's just not appropriate. You don't win that way. And to me I
felt like I was becoming a problem that way."
While Rich McKay was taking over as the new GM in Atlanta on Monday, the
man who very well could emerge as the Falcons' next head coach spent his
afternoon with a case of Bengals on the brain.
McKay filled a position that was open since Arthur Blank closed on his
$545 million purchase of the Falcons on Feb. 13, 2002. He interviewed
McKay the next day, but Blank never made him an offer because the
Glazers insisted on compensation.
Though McKay eventually signed a new six-year contract with Tampa Bay
worth $2.4 million annually, the last two seasons were awkward. The
Glazers fired coach Tony Dungy against McKay's wishes following the 2001
season and then chose not to consult their GM as they searched for a
Bill Parcells accepted but later declined Tampa Bay's offer, and the
Glazers failed to land former San Francisco coach Steve Mariucci despite
offering control over player personnel. McKay favored hiring Baltimore
defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis, but the Glazers disagreed.
The Bucs finally got their man in Gruden, but not before agreeing to
give Oakland owner Al Davis $8 million in cash and four high draft
picks. Blank hired McKay with the Glazers' assurance that they would
seek nothing in return.
Once McKay officially left the Bucs last Thursday, the Glazers gave the
Falcons four days to strike a deal.
"The discussion I had with Joel Glazer -- I told him that we were
shooting for noon today," Blank said. "That was the understanding."
On his first day on the job in Atlanta, McKay already was making plans
for his return Saturday when the Falcons (3-11) visit the Bucs (7-7).
"Ill be laying low, but I look forward to it," McKay said. "I'm not
really comfortable with the timing of this, because I'd love to have
seen it at the end of the season, but based on the way that the National
Football League is and the way it works sometimes, this is the way it
McKay's first priority will be to hire a replacement for head coach Dan
Reeves, who was fired last week. The new GM also plans to meet soon
with interim head coach Wade Phillips.
McKay's history with Tampa Bay dates to 1976, when his father, John,
became the franchise's first head coach. McKay, whose GM tenure began
in 1995, did not attend the Bucs' 16-3 win Sunday over the Houston
Injured Falcons running back Warrick Dunn, a first-round draft pick of
the Bucs in 1997, praised McKay's work in Tampa Bay.
"You don't always need superstars," Dunn said. "You need guys that are
going to come in and be dependable, so he does a good job with that."