Denver Broncos coach Josh McDaniels knows this will be a difficult week for his team as it prepares to host Indianapolis on Sunday.
An emotional McDaniels addressed the media Tuesday, a day after second-year receiver Kenny McKinley died in an apparent suicide. McKinley, 23, was on the injured reserve. He was a fifth-round pick in 2009. McDaniels declined to discuss the circumstances or details of the death. Yet, he was very open about his feelings toward McKinley and how it will weigh on the team.
“You know, it’s not going to be a normal week,” McDaniels said. “We are not going to try and pretend that it’s a normal week. We are going to do our work and get ready to go and like I said, I think really respect everybody’s ability to go through this differently. We are not going to ask everybody to be the same, and we are not all going to be the same. I think the players will understand that the week is going to go forward and we are going to have to handle that as well as get ready for the Colts and be ready to play on Sunday. It will be different, but I think our group will continue to so what they have done, which is prepare hard and get ready to play.”
McDaniels called a team meeting for Tuesday morning, which was the team’s day off. McDaniels updated the players on the situation and grief counselors addressed the team as well.
The Broncos are experienced with dealing with tragedy. Hours after the 2006 season ended, popular right cornerback Darrent Williams was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting in downtown Denver. Fifty-five days later, reserve running back Damien Nash died of a heart attack after hosting a charity basketball game. Williams and Nash were both 24.
This situation is somewhat different, because Denver has to play a game in the days after the death of a teammate.
McDaniels said there will be a moment of silence prior to Sunday’s game and players will wear a decal with McKinley’s No. 11 on it. The team has also decided to keep McKinley’s locker intact for the rest of the season. McDaniels said the team is in the progress of working on the details of a memorial service with McKinley’s family.