MOBILE, Ala. -- Fans tracked his cross-country flight from Seattle to Philadelphia. Cameras zoomed in from the second he stepped off the plane. News choppers pursued his ride from the airport to Jeffrey Luries mansion.
And, of course, there was the Gus Bus.
It was crazy, Gus Bradley, the new Jaguars head coach, said Tuesday after a Senior Bowl practice as he reflected on last weeks follow-up interview with the Eagles in Philadelphia that put the city on edge for a chaotic 24-hour span.
Almost overnight, the former Seahawks defensive coordinator had reached celebrity status to a fan base clamoring for a new head coach and for the end of a search that had entered its third week.
Bradley had become such a popular figure for the media and fans that his ride on Luries private jet was rerouted to the more obscure Northeast Airport to avoid the swarm that potentially awaited him at Philadelphia International Airport.
We were flying in an airplane and they just said we were going to land in a different airport, said Bradley, who at that point didnt know about the frenzy sweeping the city.
It was flattering, he added, but I think it wasnt me, it was just the possibility of a new head coach.
Bradley spent most of last Tuesday interviewing with Lurie, general manager Howie Roseman and president Don Smolenski but left Wednesday for his interview with Jacksonville. Later that afternoon, word leaked that the Eagles had reached an agreement with Chip Kelly, their top choice all along.
Lurie had already reached out to Bradley to inform him of the decision. Bradley said he never left thinking that he had the job locked up and wasnt disappointed that Kelly had suddenly emerged as their main man.
Jeffrey called me and we had a great conversation, Bradley said. I thought they handled it first class, the whole process and how they dealt with me. I couldnt ask for a better opportunity and I really enjoyed it, really enjoyed getting to know what they were looking for. It was really exciting.
Bradley emerged as an early lead candidate shortly after Lurie fired Andy Reid on Dec. 31. The Eagles announced that they had received permission to speak with Bradley on Jan. 4, a day before they flew out to Arizona to interview Kelly at a Four Seasons in Scottsdale.
Kelly on Jan. 6 announced his decision to stay at the University of Oregon and the Eagles boarded a flight to Denver for an interview Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. The committee finally interviewed Bradley six days later in Atlanta on the eve of Seattles divisional playoff game against the Falcons.
They spent about three hours together but Bradley, consumed by the playoff game, couldnt get into the nuts and bolts of the interview.
I was more in the playoff mode, thinking about what we had to do to beat Atlanta, he said. I just went in there and really gave them my heart on what Im all about and try to help them with their decision-making process.
I know they were trying to find the best guy and just for the three hours that we met I said, Youll get to know me and then you guys can decide if you think its a good fit or not.
After the Seahawks lost 30-28 at the Georgia Dome, Bradley and the Eagles agreed on a follow-up discussion at Luries mansion on the Main Line that would take place Tuesday. By then, Philadelphia had become infatuated with the energetic, 46-year-old coordinator who Pete Carroll had dubbed a brilliant mind.
Thousands -- if not more -- hit the internet to track Bradleys flight from Seattle as the Gus Bus craze moved fast around the Delaware Valley, especially as it appeared very likely that Bradley would become the Eagles next head coach.
Its a special place, Bradley said of Philadelphia. Im sure Chip Kelly will do great and thats what I told Jeffrey. I said, It sounds like you got the guy that you really were going after and thats great. Im happy for him.
E-mail Geoff Mosher at firstname.lastname@example.org