Kenny McKinley's Apparent Suicide Leaves Broncos Shaken
"Our team is a close-knit group and it was good to have them here today to share in the grieving process," said an emotional McDaniels, his voice cracking at times. "I know it won't be easy. But I think the group has a lot of strength and we'll support each other."
He said the counseling process with the team would continue "as long as it's needed."
McKinley, 23, was found dead in his home near the Broncos' Dove Valley headquarters on Monday. The Arapahoe County Sheriff's Department said he apparently died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, though a final determination has not been made and the case remains under investigation.
During the meeting, McDaniels said the staff and players prayed for McKinley and his family -- his survivors include his parents and a young son -- and committed to working on ways to continue supporting them. He said a moment of silence will be observed at Sunday's game against the Indianapolis Colts at Invesco Field at Mile High. In addition, the team is leaving McKinley's locker undisturbed this season and will wear helmet decals with his No. 11 for the rest of the year.
McDaniels remembered McKinley, a second-year pro who went on injured reserve with a knee injury during training camp, as a special person with a warm laugh, wide smile and outgoing personality.
He said he last saw him a couple weeks ago in the cafeteria, and that he was his "usual self." At no time in recent weeks did he show any indications that he was troubled, either personally or professionally, McDaniels said.
"Nothing that would alarm us," McDaniels said. "He was working hard with his rehab."
Linebacker Wesley Woodyard, speaking on behalf of his teammates at the news conference, said McKinley was a very loving, caring individual who always showed everyone respect.
"It's tough to lose a guy like him, especially such a young guy," he said. "He had a big smile, and like the coach said, you always saw every tooth in his mouth."
But he was also a tough, promising football player.
"One thing about him, he was competitive. When he had a football in his hands, he was tough to tackle," Woodyard said.
McDaniels said it was going to be rough getting ready to play a game on Sunday, but that the coaches, players and organization would do the best it could while being mindful of the loss of McKinley and respectful of his family.
"It's not going to be a normal week," McDaniels said. "Were not going to pretend it's a normal week. But we're going to do our work and get ready to go."
Woodyard said McKinley will be in their thoughts as they take the field.
"We're going to play with him on our shoulders and in our hearts," Woodyard said.
According to the Denver Post, an autopsy was performed on McKinley Tuesday morning.
"The cause of death is determined to be a gunshot wound to the head," the Arapahoe County coroner's office said in a statement. "Preliminary investigation suggests the wound to be self-inflicted."
The Post reported that investigators had not found a note.