What changed, then?
Well, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats gave him an opportunity to do both.
“I didn’t want to go through that grind all season,” said the 34-year-old, who quietly retired in May after a lengthy stint with the Calgary Stampeders. “But I’ve got 10 weeks left in me, so we’ll see what happens.”
Along with McDaniel, the Tiger-Cats have added Chad Owens — a key part of head coach June Jones’ run-and-shoot offence at the University of Hawaii — to their practice roster as insurance against a growing corps of injured receivers.
He rolled his ankle Tuesday in his first official workout with the team.
“We can’t catch a break on that,” said Jones. “But he’ll be fine, it sounds like. I was just talking to him and it sounds like he’ll be OK.”
This is the second tour of Hamilton for both former CFL all-stars. McDaniel was here for 2 1/2 seasons before signing with the Stamps in 2011, while Owens amassed 808 yards and five touchdowns over a dozen appearances in 2016.
Jones said they’re “one play away” from playing, with Chris Williams, Shamawd Chambers and Jalen Saunders all done for the season and Brandon Banks nursing a pulled groin. He also seemed pleased with what he’s seen of the veterans so far.
McDaniel, he said, “is a true pro,” while Owens, 36, knows what to do instinctively when a play is called. “He looked the same to me on the field until he went out,” Jones added. “Hopefully, he’ll be OK.”
The Tiger-Cats were in talks with both players before Saturday, when, midway through Hamilton’s win over the host Toronto Argonauts, Banks started to feel some tightness in his groin. He hasn’t practised since, but said he would be ready for this weekend, when Calgary comes to town.
Jones was likewise optimistic, saying, “I think he’ll play.”
McDaniel, meanwhile, sees the situation as an unexpected opportunity. When he came to Hamilton this summer to coach Mac’s receivers, he had “no desire to get back into it.” But then the Tiger-Cats called and he forced himself to give the idea some thought.
He decided he liked the team — and its offence — and the direction things are going. Importantly, he also liked the morning practice times, which allow him to get to the university before his own players take the field at 5 p.m.
“It was a good fit,” McDaniel said. “It just worked out.”