The NFL is a business, but that doesn’t mean players and coaches can’t have fun — especially at each other’s expense.
That was the case ahead of the 2019 NFL Draft, when third-year Rams coach Sean McVay pranked first-year Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury. The former Texas Tech coach had just been hired in January and was still learning the ropes of NFL rules — something his NFC West counterpart took advantage of.
“He had done his due diligence of saying, ‘OK I know there’s some tampering rules in the NFL,’” McVay said during an appearance on The Ringer’s “Flying Coach” podcast. “He’s been doing his thing in college, played in the league, but he’s never dealt with some of these rules in the NFL.
“I’m sure Kliff and (Cardinals GM Steve Keim) already had it figured out, they’re taking Kyler Murray No. 1. This guy was walking around like he was 7 foot, he was feeling so good about taking Kyler. And that was the big story. It was probably less than a month away from the draft. So he’s so confident about it.”
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McVay pulled the prank in Los Angeles, where he, Kingsbury and former Red Raiders quarterback Patrick Mahomes (whom Kingsbury coached in college) were eating dinner. The Rams coach changed one of his friend’s contact info in his own phone to read, “Roger Goodell,” then had them text his phone as if he were the NFL commissioner.
“So he texts me, ‘Hey, you know better than this. You and Kingsbury are both in deep trouble for tampering,’” McVay said.
He showed the exchange to the Cardinals coach, saying Goodell never texted him and that meant it must be serious.
“This guy looked like he was going to throw up,” McVay said. “I mean, he’s always got a good tan and a nice glow. He was as white as my walls behind me. He was ready to puke. And I wanted to let it go. … It was probably 30 seconds that probably felt like three hours to him. I said, ‘I’m just kidding.’ I don’t think he ate the rest of the meal.”
Kingsbury, who was also on the podcast, chimed in: “I didn’t eat the rest of the trip.”
Here’s a video of McVay detailing the prank:
Luckily for Kingsbury, he got to keep the team’s No. 1 overall pick, which the Cardinals used to select Murray. But how’s that for a “welcome to the NFL” moment?