The departure of longtime Chicago Bears punter Brad Maynard has revealed some previously unknown (at least to me) animosity behind the team's special teams juggernaut and led to a surprising public rebuke of highly-regarded special teams coordinator Dave Toub.
In a series of interviews, most recently with "Waddle & Silvy" on ESPN 1000, Maynard said he and Toub haven't been on the same page for years. The feud apparently began late in the 2009 season, when Toub stripped Maynard's option to determine kick direction. From his ESPN 1000 interview:
"[Toub] always used to let me call the direction of every kick. I'd come up to him on the sidelines and say, 'Hey, let's go left here.' And he would just relay the message to all the guys standing around. Late in the '09 season I ran up there and said, 'Let's go left,' and it was 'No, I'm calling it from now on. We're going right.' It just kind of took me aback a little bit.
"I talked to [long snapper Patrick Mannelly] and [place-kicker] Robbie [Gould] about this from that point on over the next couple years. ... There were times when I literally would say left and he would say right and I would say I can't go right. The wind is blowing right to left, we need to go left. If I hit it right down the middle it's going to carry down the left sideline, and he wouldn't let me do it.
"I've had some teammates say you call the direction and we'll cover it. Just let us know. But I can't do that. I'm not that type of player. I'm not selfish. I'm going to do what my coach asks me to do."
There are obviously two sides to every story, and we haven't yet heard from Toub. Bears coaches aren't scheduled to speak with reporters until Friday.
Gould, for one, seemed to support Maynard's position while talking with Chicago-area reporters Tuesday. This line in particular caught my eye: "He's helped Dave Toub's career tremendously by the fact of having a punter that can do what he did."
I don't think Toub's reputation around the league will be tarnished by this issue, especially if the Bears follow through with their reported plan to sign New York Jets punter Steve Weatherford. Sometimes a coach has to assert himself for the betterment of the team, even if it creates an awkward situation with an individual player. It's just rare that you see dirty laundry of this level aired out in public, and it's been duly noted.