MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Miami Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel: quarterback whisperer, scheme wizard, and — dare we say — fashion icon?
There’s no denying the 39-year-old man has a sense of — and dedication to — style. McDaniel owns belts that cost as much as shoes, shoes that cost as much as watches, and watches that probably cost as much as an old Honda Civic.
But nothing has matched the swag of the gold-rim, brown-lens sunglasses McDaniel rocked during the Dolphins’ epic comeback in Baltimore last week. Put simply, he looked like Quintessential Miami — where he’s quickly becoming a folk hero for his wide-open system and can’t-miss news conferences.
And the great part about his keen (and well-funded) attention to sartorial detail?
It’s totally authentic. What you see is what you get — and his players can’t get enough.
Fashion-conscious Mike McDaniel ‘is a vibe’
“We love it,” Dolphins running back Myles Gaskin said this week, ahead of the Dolphins’ huge early-season showdown with the Buffalo Bills.
“He’s a vibe, man.”
Added Dolphins safety Eric Rowe: “The way he has the watches, the shoes, the clothes, the glasses. He comes with a lot of swag. He’s definitely different.”
And he’s become a fascination — both here and across the country.
After the Dolphins’ Week 1 win over the Patriots, the Complex Sneakers Twitter account — which has more than 800,000 followers — ID’d McDaniel’s choice of game-day footwear (Supreme x Nike Air Force 1s).
But those aren’t even close to the best pair of sneakers in what has to be a large collection. McDaniel is said to be partial to Yeezy’s — and isn’t afraid to get them dirty.
“I think I’ve seen three [different pairs] so far, without me just focusing on it,” Rowe said. “I’ll be like, ‘Oh, he’s got some Yeezys on today? All right.’ Just wearing them out in the grass, don’t care if they get dirty. He don’t care.”
Gaskin, meanwhile, thinks he’s seen four different Yeezy designs on McDaniel’s feet in the eight months they’ve worked together.
That makes McDaniel so unique; he works in an industry where a baseball cap, hoodie, and shorts are the standard uniforms. But rookie quarterback Skylar Thompson knew his new coach was rare the first time he met him.
“I came in here, met him, and I looked at his feet and he had some Yeezys on,” Thompson said. “I was like OK. Don’t really see that often. I don’t know if that was an NFL thing or not. I was like, OK. And then just noticed, when I got here, every day he was wearing some sort of Yeezys or something. Especially on his feet. I respect him for that.”
Miami Dolphins’ McDaniel a youthful breath of fresh air
Then there are the watches. He loves them — and it seems the rule is, the bigger and bolder, the better.
“He’s pretty comical about it, honestly,” Thompson said. “He just makes subtle jokes here and there. It’s all fun and games. I think it just makes everything loose in the building, especially like in team meetings. He would make reference to his watch, making sure guys were on time. Subtle things like that.”
With McDaniel’s instant success in Miami (the Dolphins are 2-0 for the first time since 2018) and a bunch of big-time games on the schedule in the weeks to come, the attention he gets will only grow.
That goes for both his coaching decisions and fashion choices — even if he tried to downplay the topic with humor Wednesday.
“If you’ve been to your optometrist lately, you’d know,” McDaniel said when asked about his glasses. “… They let me know that I had some sun damage on my eyes. And so how do you protect that? You wear sunglasses. Watches are important to tell time. And I like to know what time it is. There’s nothing worse than the boss who is like, ‘What time is it?’”
McDaniel then got to the revealing part of his answer:
“I don’t even think about it, to be honest, which probably gets some judgment here or there. But I think it’s important, when you do have the opportunity to be in a leadership role, to, if you’re going to ask people to be honest with themselves and take an honest look at how they approach their stuff, I think it’s important to lead by example. I don’t want people feeling judged about trivial things because I think that’s an opportunity cost.
“If you’re trying to sit here and guess what I expect you to act like, that seems like the most inefficient process known to man. And when you’re doing that, that opportunity cost, you’re not thinking about what’s important. So I think it’s important from my vantage point to worry about the stuff that I think is important to my job and them and the players and the team.
“And to be honest, I don’t put that much thought outside of my normal thought. I like shoes, so if I’m like ‘Hey,’ on a given day, ‘that shoe looks cool,’ then I’ll wear that. But yeah, outside of that I was just trying to keep my retinas protected and know what time it is.”
McDaniel’s personality rubbing off on Dolphins
Here’s one way that McDaniel’s flair does impact his team: He exudes confidence in most everything he does. And that can be contagious.
Just ask Tyreek Hill, who said McDaniel needs “a wheelbarrow for his nuts to carry them around” after the Dolphins’ Week 1 win. That colorful visual came after McDaniel elected to go for it on 4th-and-7 near midfield late in the first half — a decision that resulted in a long touchdown pass from Tua Tagovailoa to Jaylen Waddle.
But that was just an appetizer for Week 2’s main course: The Dolphins scored four fourth-quarter touchdowns to turn a 21-point deficit into a four-point win.
“I think it gives everybody confidence,” Thompson said. “That’s what was really special about last week, coming in at halftime. Honestly, we didn’t play our best ball there in the first half. But you didn’t see guys shying away from the moment and never tap out. We knew we didn’t play our best ball, but we knew we put things together and come out with a win still.
“There wasn’t people hanging their head, pouting about what was going on. It was all about, ‘Lets get them back in the second half, and let’s find a way to win this game.’ I think that trickles from the way Coach McDaniel carries himself, his fearless mentality. That’s really fun, especially as a play-caller. It helps Tua and everyone to stay relaxed, stay confident, having a game like that.”
Added Tagovailoa: “I think Mike has the utmost confidence in our offense, that if he does call a play, we’re going to go out there and we’re going to execute it to the best of our ability. And yeah, he just has trust in us.”
And they have trust in McDaniel — the swaggiest coach in pro football.