MOBILE, Ala. -- The shaved head Eagles fans glimpsed from news helicopter footage just one short week earlier was covered by a Jacksonville Jaguars cap Tuesday, as Gus Bradley stood on the Ladd-Peebles Stadium turf and reflected on a dizzying NFL hiring process.
Nine days previously, Bradley had run the Seattle Seahawks' defense in their playoff loss at Atlanta, the day after Bradley first talked to the Eagles about their head-coaching job. Bradley acknowledged Tuesday that he was preoccupied with the looming playoff game that first time around, talked to the Eagles only briefly.
A week ago though, Bradley flew from the Seattle area to Northeast Philadelphia Airport with thousands of Eagles fans tracking his flight online. He stepped off the plane to a waiting SUV with news helicopters hovering, and they also recorded his arrival at Eagles chairman Jeffrey Lurie's Wynnewood mansion.
At the time, Eagles Nation was fixated on the "Gus Bus," and whether the Birds would be able to sign Bradley before he left for an interivew the next day in Jacksonville. Only the Eagles' brass, Chip Kelly, and Kelly's agent, David Dunn, knew Kelly had reentered the field, and that the Eagles were negotiating with Kelly as they entertained Bradley. Lurie has said that he only told Bradley the Eagles were involved with another candidate, who "had head coaching experience."
Did Bradley, like most of Philadelphia, think that night he was close to getting the job? The Eagles have said they would have hired Bradley if they couldn't have gotten Kelly.
"I didn't know," Bradley said after Tuesday's North team practice at the Senior Bowl. "I knew that they just needed some time. My whole intent was to go down to Jacksonville and see what that was all about. Once I got on the plane and was headed there, I forgot about Philadelphia. I knew that would come in time, their decision, and I really wanted my focus to be to do a good job down in Jacksonville."
The "Gus Bus" Philly hysteria "was crazy," Bradley said, laughing. He said that after he landed, he was told the intense media interest was why his chartered jet was diverted from Philadelphia International Airport to the Northeast.
"It was flattering," he said. "I think it wasn't me, it was just the possibility of a new head coach."
Bradley said he learned he wasn't getting the Eagles' job in a Wednesday phone call from Lurie. He said he never knew Kelly was the other finalist.
"We had a great conversation," Bradley said. "I thought they handled it first-class. The whole process and how they dealt with me, I couldn't ask for a better opportunity and I really enjoyed it. I really enjoyed getting to know what they were looking for."