A month ago, Chiefs coach Todd Haley refused to shake hands with Josh McDaniels after the Broncos' upset of Kansas City, telling his Denver counterpart that a lot of people were talking badly about him, though Haley's language was saltier.
As it turns out, it was a telling rebuke.
On Monday, with more than two years left on his contract to coach the Broncos, the 34-year-old McDaniels was fired.
It was a bitter end to what had increasingly become a chaotic reign with the Broncos by McDaniels, a former New England assistant under Bill Belichick who was part of three Super Bowl titles with the Patriots.
In hiring the Belichick disciple, the Broncos hoped that McDaniels would duplicate the kind of success that, as New England's former offensive coordinator, he helped the Patriots achieve.
Instead, they got more image than substance from the hoodie-wearing McDaniels not to mention almost non-stop tumult from the time McDaniels joined the Broncos as the successor to Mike Shanahan in January 2009.
Brash, and obsessed with secrecy, McDaniels rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. But it was his sometimes imperious dealings with players, repeated personnel mistakes, the lack of success on the field and a reputation-damaging videotape scandal that got him fired.
From the get-go, McDaniels clashed with the team's franchise quarterback, eventually leading to the trade of Jay Cutler. There were run-ins with other top players, including Brandon Marshall and tight end Tony Scheffler, both of whom were traded away. In what now is seen as the worst personnel move that he made, McDaniels shipped running back Peyton Hillis to Cleveland in exchange for quarterback Brady Quinn, who has yet to play a down for the Broncos while Hillis is tearing it up for the Browns as one of the league's most productive players.
Most recently, Vic Lombardi of The Denver Sports Insiders tweeted that a Broncos player said McDaniels had a confrontation on the practice field Monday with Champ Bailey and D.J. Williams.
There was also fallout from the improper taping of an opponent's practice. The reputation of McDaniels and the team took a serious hit when the NFL two weeks ago fined them each $50,000 for failing to let the league know in a timely manner about the episode in which a former Broncos employee taped a 49ers practice the day before the teams played in London on Oct. 31.
His ties to New England and Belichick worsened the taint from the latest episode because of his links to the original Spygate. The cameraman, a friend of McDaniels who also worked for New England, was fired by the Broncos.
Sensitive to its fan base, the Broncos' brass was well aware that there also was mushrooming public resentment over what many saw as McDaniels' high-handed dealings with some of the team's most popular players.
That might have been tolerable if McDaniels was winning, but since starting 6-0 as the Broncos' coach, McDaniels had won just five of 22 games, including a 3-9 mark this season with four games to go.
The Broncos also endured what many view as their worst loss ever, a 59-14 blowout by the Raiders at Invesco Field at Mile High last month, on McDaniels' watch. He found himself apologizing to ownership and the fans after the game for the dismal performance.
At their last home game, disgruntled fans stayed away in droves, leaving thousands of empty seats for Denver's 36-33 loss to the St. Louis Rams two weeks ago. The team didn't even announce actual attendance, rather only giving the league-required paid attendance, which was 72,736. That was still the smallest crowd at a Broncos game since the opening of 10-year-old Invesco Field at Mile High.
When the Broncos were defeated 10-6 at Kansas City on Sunday, it was their seventh loss in eight games and left them eliminated from playoff contention for a fifth consecutive season.
McDaniels got a conciliatory hug, handshake and a pat on the head from Haley after that game. There would be no such conciliatory gesture from the Broncos. Twenty-four hours later, McDaniels was out of a job.