In February, Michael Bidwill said Cardinals didn’t want to distract Jonathan Gannon

The NFL tucked the outcome of the Jonathan Gannon tampering situation into the minutes before the start of the 2023 draft for a reason. The league wanted no one to pay attention to it. The league wanted no one to ask questions about it. The league wanted no one to get to the bottom of why the Cardinals and Eagles were allowed to work out basically a trade to make up for the blatant violation.

Assuming, for now, that the version of events supplied by Cardinals G.M. Monti Ossenfort and Gannon is true — that Gannon received a single phone call and nothing more from Ossenfort after the NFC Championship game asking whether Gannon wanted to interview for the job following the Super Bowl — it’s still a major problem. And it created a major distraction for Gannon.

The extent of the distraction becomes obvious, when considering the things said at Gannon’s introductory press conference in February. At that time, he was reminded at the time that he had told a local Philadelphia TV station before the NFC Championship that Gannon would return to the Eagles in 2023.

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Here’s what Gannon said in response: “When I made that comment, I wasn’t going anywhere because Houston went another direction. That’s who I interviewed for, and I knew that they were going in another direction and that was the only interview I had for this cycle. So you know I was obviously fully engaged in the playoff run that we had, then to the Super Bowl, and then like I said, [Eagles G.M.] Howie [Roseman] approached me on Sunday night after the game and said, ‘Hey, you’re gonna stay here. You’re not flying back with us. You’re gonna interview for this job. And that’s when I clicked that mindset in and said, ‘OK, well, let me probably, you know, stop — gotta pick up my bootstraps a little bit, because I was down obviously a little bit about the game and, you know, take a shower, work out, and come in and, you know, shoot your gun. So, that’s what I did.”

But that’s not what he did. He knew the request was coming, nearly two weeks in advance. He undoubtedly spent time preparing for an interview that happened the day after the Super Bowl loss. Assuming that he was telling the truth when he said during that same press conference that he spent time on the night of the Super Bowl watching film of the defensive performance during the loss to the Chiefs, Gannon presumably felt sufficiently prepared for what would be happening the very next day: an interview for an NFL head-coaching job.

So even if it was just a single phone call, it necessarily was a distraction. Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill emphasized during the same press conference — immediately after Gannon provided the answer quoted above — that the Cardinals specifically waited to request permission to interview potential coaching candidates until their seasons had ended, so as to not create any distractions for the coaches or their teams.

“I want to jump in here, because I think it speaks to his adaptability,” Bidwill said. “But, also, throughout the process, because of where we were in the hiring process, on the date that we hired Monti the window had sort of closed, and what we didn’t want to do was be a distraction to some of the coaches who, as they were eliminated, we put in permission request forms and so we did that with other candidates and we did that with Jonathan. So we didn’t want to be a distraction to any one of the coaches, including Jonathan in the biggest game that there is.”


Little did Bidwill know (unless he did) that Ossenfort had called Gannon. That Ossenfort had made it clear that the Cardinals were interested in Gannon, even though the Cardinals hadn’t previously interviewed him. That Gannon necessarily had been distracted.

That one phone call had major implications. It gave Gannon something to think about (at a minimum) or to spend significant time preparing for (at a maximum) when his thoughts and efforts should have been focused solely on preparing the Eagles defense for, as Bidwill called it, “the biggest game that there is.”

Now, the Cardinals, the Eagles, and the league are playing a game of Three-card Monte over the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth on the extent of the distraction the Cardinals created — and its potential ramifications.

In February, Michael Bidwill said Cardinals didn’t want to distract Jonathan Gannon originally appeared on Pro Football Talk