Gus Bradley held court on the field of Ladd-Peebles Stadium following Senior Bowl practice Tuesday, dressed in Jaguars gear and wearing a big grin.
Half the media in the gathering was from Philadelphia, steering questions away from what’s to come in Jacksonville to talk about what almost was with the Eagles.
The brief courtship drew big attention. Bradley had heard about the passion of this fan base, and saw it first hand before he even touched down on Philly soil.
“It was crazy,” said Bradley when asked about thousands of fans tracking his flight. “We were flying in the airplane and they said, ‘We’re going to land at a different airport.’ And I said, ‘OK, I guess we’re going to a different airport.’
“It was flattering. But I don’t think it was me, I think it was the possibility of a new head coach.”
The former Seahawks defensive coordinator is forever linked to Philadelphia and the Chip Kelly hire. He was the second man in line behind Kelly, so it’s natural to follow his career and see how it compares to the man the Eagles chose over him.
It appeared that Bradley was in the driver’s seat when he was brought in for a second interview. But the Eagles, quietly talking with Kelly behind the scenes, allowed Bradley to leave town without a deal. Bradley took off for Jacksonville.
“I knew that they just needed some time,” said Bradley. “My whole intent was to go down to Jacksonville and see what that was all about. Once I got on the plane and was heading there I really forgot about Philadelphia. I knew their decision would come in time, and my focus was to do a good job down in Jacksonville.”
Jeffrey Lurie delivered the news to Bradley that they were going with Kelly. Bradley said the whole process was handled “first-class” by the Eagles, and they left on very positive terms. There were signs of that on Tuesday, as Bradley spent time mingling with Eagles employees on the practice field.
“It’s a special place,” said Bradley of Philadelphia. “I’m sure Chip Kelly will do good. That’s what I told Jeffrey: ‘It sounds like you got the guy that you were really going after.’ And that’s great. I’m happy for them. I’m extremely happy in Jacksonville.”
As the conversation switched back to the future, Bradley offered a vision of how he sees his new team playing under him.
“I have this image that we’re going to be extremely tough and play with a lot of poise,” said Bradley. “That keeps popping into my mind. Guys that are passionate about the game.”
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