What a crazy road it's been for Jeff Tedford. He was supposed to be the savior of the Cal program only to be ignominiously fired. He got his big break in the NFL as an offensive coordinator for the Buccaneers and seemingly got their offense going, but suddenly developed major heart problems and had to take a temporary break... Which ended up being more permanent of sorts when the team and he decided to part ways. JoeBucsFan.com managed to break the story on what exactly happened between Tedford and the Bucs... by cornering him at the East-West Shrine game. How is it they manage to score an interview when they do that and I just get another restraining order?
Let's tackle this whole story chronologically, with the injury that sparked this whole schism. Tedford recounts the scary incident:
The morning of [the Buffalo preseason] game, in my hotel room I blacked out and didn't tell anybody about it. I just went ahead and coached the game. I didn't feel good in the locker room before the game. I went ahead and coached the game. And after the game I felt terrible again.
Usually, when I get on the plane and take an iPad and I watch the game, and I grade it and all of that. I went right to sleep. I felt like there was something wrong. And I had the armshakes and stuff. So I knew where was something going on. The next morning I am going to grade the tape and I felt [bad], and I went to Lovie [Smith] and said, "I think I have a health thing going on here." So that's when they took me over [to the hospital] immediately and admitted me and found that I had blockages and they had to do stents, and there was a debate whether they were going to do bypass [surgery] or stents. Luckily, it was just stents.
Some (but not all) Bucs fans have vocally derided Tedford for taking so long to bounce back after what they must believe is a simple operation. In reality, the situation was further complicated—and prolonged—by issues with a complex cocktail of medications and a long recovery process.
Part of it is you have to balance your medications. I was on like eight different medications. And they can mess with you a little bit. They were giving me a lot things for certain things and I was reacting a certain way with things. I was tired all the time. It was a situation where I had to get those medications balanced out then I started feeling better.
The process was: getting [the prescriptions] balanced, getting back to where you need to be, then wean off of them again. That was towards the end with about five weeks left [in the season]. I was off of them and I felt and felt I was 100 percent.
Tedford remains steadfast in his belief in the Bucs program and players. Having grown attached to the players, it was especially difficult to sit idly on the sidelines without the ability to help his team or prove his own system. In fact, he emphasizes that he wanted to return and lead the offense, but head coach Lovie Smith recognized that Tedford was still less than 100% and advised that he continue to rest.
Despite this, Tedford did not interject and attempt to significantly advise quarterbacks coach–turned–offensive coordinator (and former Cal assistant coach) Marcus Arroyo as Tedford felt it would be unfair and inappropriate to do so without working in depth with the team during that time.
After what must have been an excruciatingly long recovery, Tedford finally felt healthy enough to return to his post late in the NFL season. However, Tedford reveals that with no guarantee he would be retained for the next year, head coach Lovie Smith decided to keep the thrown-together offense as is rather than risk disrupting continuity by bringing Tedford back as the man in charge.
I was ready to [return to coach] with about five games left. I wouldn't say that there was friction; it was a situation where I think when I let [Lovie] know I was ready to come back, [but] Lovie felt like it would kind of disrupt continuity at the time.
And [the Buccaneers] really couldn't commit to me about another year because, you know, I don't know if they were a little apprehensive about my health or whatever. But I wanted to stay in the first place.
You can listen to the audio of the whole 11-minute interview at the first link. I'll also repost the link here because I know you're lazy. Yeah, I'm talking to you.
Coach Tedford—we wish you the best of luck in the CFL. Hopefully you'll still get your chance to prove your system in the NFL. Kudos to JoeBucsFan for the scoop and credit to them for the transcripts.