Mike McDaniel opens up on story of him threatening to kick player off team for dancing with his now wife

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Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel recently clarified a story told by Al Michaels during the fourth quarter of the team’s win over the New York Jets about how the coach called dibs on his wife.

“It was a cool, light hearted story that took a [ugly] turn,” McDaniel said.

Michaels told the following story on Nov. 24.

“Mike McDaniel tells us a story today,” Michaels said. “We’re talking to him and I said, ‘Tell me a Sacramento Mountain Lions story.’ The United Football League, 2010, he’s the running backs coach. They blow out Omaha. They go to a nightclub to celebrate. One of the running backs that he coaches is dancing with a girl and Mike says, ‘Listen, you’re not dancing with her anymore or you’re not playing with this team next year.’ So the guy says, ‘What can I do?’ So then McDaniel starts dancing with her — that’s the beginning of the story. Four years later, they’re married. Katie [Hemstalk], that’s how he met her. ‘Hey you, get off. I’m dancing with her.’”

McDaniel later said that Michaels got some of the details of the story wrong.

“The skeleton of the story is correct, but there are a couple of important caveats,” he said.

His threat to kick running back Steve Baylark off the team for dancing with his future wife was allegedly a joke.

“It was in jest,” McDaniel said. “My wife was talking about me stealing people’s girl. The dude had met her for 45 seconds. … It was a very unique scenario. It was a special place in our memories.

“I feel like I was painted out to be a d-bag,” he said. “It wasn’t like that at all. It was nice and easy. We were celebrating as a team. I think Steve Baylark was well aware when I made that joke in jest it was more important to me than it was to him. And I’m pretty sure I was right. I have a family now.”

McDaniel is in his second season as the head coach of the Dolphins organization. During his first season — the 2022 season — as the head coach, he led the Dolphins to a 9-8 regular-season record.

He’s seen much more regular-season success this season. The Dolphins already have eight wins on the season with six games remaining on their schedule. Miami owns an 8-3 record, which is the best record in the AFC East division at the moment by a wide margin. For perspective, the Buffalo Bills own the second-best record in the division at 6-6.

Thanks partly to McDaniel’s coaching expertise, the Dolphins have one of the most explosive offenses of any team in the NFL so far this season. Miami is averaging 30.8 points per game this season, the second-highest scoring average in the league behind only the Dallas Cowboys, who are averaging 31.5 points per game.

Also, the Dolphins’ offense has totaled 4,735 yards, which is 100-plus yards more than any other team.

McDaniel’s comments only further solidify the notion that he’s one of the more candid head coaches in the NFL right now.

He will try to coach the Dolphins to their third consecutive victory when they take on the Washington Commanders on Sunday. The Commanders own a poor 4-8 record so far and are riding a three-game losing streak with losses to the Seattle Seahawks, New York Giants and Cowboys.

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Jesse is a 23-year-old sports journalist. He has experience covering football at the high-school and professional levels.