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Andy Reid was an unknown assistant in Green Bay when Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie took a chance on hiring Brett Favre’s position coach to revive a struggling franchise in Philadelphia.
A newspaper headline greeted Reid’s arrival with a headline that said: “Andy Who?”
Everybody knows his name now.
Reid won more games (130) than any coach in franchise history during his 14 seasons with the Eagles. He led Philadelphia to nine playoff appearances, six division titles and five NFC championship games. But Reid couldn’t deliver a Super Bowl victory, losing to the New England Patriots after the 2004 season. For that reason, he was underappreciated by many fans and reporters in Philly.
Reid eventually lost his job after only his third losing season in 2012, and immediately landed in Kansas City. He finally hoisted that elusive Vince Lombardi Trophy with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs three years ago.
By that time, the Eagles had won their first Super Bowl under then-coach Doug Pederson, one of Reid’s prized pupils.
Now, Reid and the Eagles are going head-to-head aiming for that second title. The Chiefs (16-3) vs. the Eagles (16-3) is one of the most-anticipated Super Bowl matchups in recent years.
Just don’t expect the stoic Reid to get emotional about it.
“When you really cut to the chase on it, they’re a really good football team and so, I think that’s where the energy goes because really when it’s kickoff, you’re playing that team,” Reid said Monday.
“It’s the players that you’re going against and the coaches and so the uniform (and) all, that’s not where your mind’s at. Your mind’s at making sure you have a solid game plan and that you come out and you can perform to the best of our ability.
“That’s, I think, where the major focus goes, and you try to — it doesn’t matter who you’re playing — you try to blank out all the hype that goes with the game. It’s a pretty big game for everybody. ... It’s a big, big deal. It’s the Super Bowl. But you try to blank that out and make sure that you’re getting the game plan — what really matters — together.”
Nearly a quarter century since he walked into an interview with the Eagles armed with a 6-inch binder containing notes on how to build a winning team, Reid has amassed Hall of Fame credentials. He’s led the Chiefs to nine playoff appearances, including seven consecutive division titles in 10 winning seasons. He’s been to five straight AFC title games, winning three.
“It’s a real testament to the job that general manager Brett Veach and Coach Reid have done over the last several years,” Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said after the team clinched the division last month.
“We obviously have a bunch of young players and we’ve got some new players, and Andy and his staff have done a tremendous job of incorporating them into the team. That’s just part of the National Football League. They’ve really done a fantastic job, and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Reid is a no-nonsense, old-school coach who is respected and loved by his players. He rarely throws anyone under the bus. Part of the criticism he received from reporters in Philly was for his unwillingness to call anyone out and to always shoulder all the blame after losses and poor performances. “I gotta do a better job” became a punch line.
He came across as robotic in news conferences, always opening with injuries before turning it over to reporters for questions by saying: “Time’s yours.”
At 64, Reid has become more of a lovable grandpa in Kansas City. He’s known for wearing floral shirts and cracking jokes about his weight. Ask Reid how he plans to celebrate a victory and he’ll say with a cheeseburger.
“I’m gonna go get the biggest cheeseburger you’ve ever seen!” Reid said after the Chiefs beat the 49ers in the Super Bowl on Feb. 2, 2020.
After a victory over the Seahawks on Dec. 24, Mahomes and All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce presented Reid with a cheeseburger inside a wrapped Nike shoe box as a Christmas gift.
Players in the locker room cheered and hollered.
Reid smiled and shouted: “May you all get a gift as great as this.”
Another Lombardi trophy would be the best present of all.
AP Sports Writer Dave Skretta contributed to this report.
Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter at https://twitter.com/robmaaddi
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL