When Andy Reid took over as head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2013, he couldn’t have picked a worse team in the NFL.
Their 2-14 record in the previous season not only placed them bottom of the NFL’s rankings but also was tied for the worst ever in the history of the Chiefs franchise.
The team was at rock bottom and the new head coach was hardly coming in on a high.
Reid had been fired from the Philadelphia Eagles, after 14 seasons, after a 4-12 campaign that was the worst in the coach’s career.
Fast forward 10 years, after a decade of work under Reid, and on Sunday, the Chiefs will be playing in their third Super Bowl in four years, hoping for their second triumph in that period.
Reid’s impact in Missouri was instant and owner Clark Hunt has no doubt of the significance of hiring the former Eagles coach.
“With the benefit now of a decade having Andy as the head coach, I do reflect back on that as a real turning point for the franchise,” Hunt said.
“He came in, the job he did in Year One where we opened the season 9-0 with essentially the same roster that we had the year before when we only won a couple games (is) just a real testament to what a great coach Andy is.
“Now, five straight AFC Championship Games and three Super Bowls,” he noted.
Reid is always quick to praise the role of Clark and of general manager Brett Veach, who has masterfully handled the draft and trades to build such a formidable roster.
In particular, the decision to draft quarterback Patrick Mahomes, trading two first-round picks and a third-round pick to grab the Texan in 2017, was inspired.
But all those components needed to be assembled into a consistently winning team and that is where the experience and knowledge of Reid has proven invaluable.
Reid, who never played in the NFL and had only a modest college playing career, worked his way up the coaching ladder in classic fashion.
He badgered his way into early jobs in the college game, once driving to an airport to intercept one head coach and pitch for an assistant role.
He worked as an offensive line coach with three college teams before he was hired by Mike Holmgren at the Green Bay Packers, eventually becoming assistant head coach.
Despite Reid never having been a coordinator, the Eagles took a chance on him as head coach in 1999 and in his 14 seasons he took Philadelphia into the playoffs nine times, including a run to the Super Bowl where the Eagles lost to the New England Patriots in 2004.
There are plenty of familar faces in the current Eagles team that will face Reid’s men on Sunday and he has nothing but good words for all of them.
“It’s a great organization,” Reid said. “I had 14 years there man, I loved every minute of it.”
Away from the field, though, there has been plenty of pain in Reid’s life.
Reid’s oldest son Garrett, who worked with him at the Eagles but had long battled with drug addiction, died of an accidental heroin overdose in August, 2012.
Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie alluded to that period this week when asked about the decision to release Reid.
“I just remember sort of a lot is unsaid,” Lurie told Pro Football Network.
“You kind of know what a family’s going through. I think that’s more for him to share than I. But I have so much respect for his resilience to be able to endure what he did and his family,” he said.
Reid’s other son, Britt, worked with him as a coach at the Chiefs before, in the days before the team’s appearance in the Super Bowl in 2021, he was involved in a drink driving incident that left a five-year old girl in a coma and led to a three-year jail sentence, which he is currently serving.
Somehow, despite those trials, Reid has managed to build a record as a coach that places his among the very elite.
Among active NFL coaches, only Bill Parcells of the New England Patriots, with six Super Bowl wins from nine appearances, has made it to the big game more times.
At 64, Reid, instantly recognizable with his bushy moustache and heavy build, might be forgiven for thinking about life after football.
But owner Hunt certainly isn’t expecting him to head into retirement just yet.
“I think Andy is having too much fun coaching the Chiefs right now. I think he’s really enjoying what he’s doing,” Hunt said. “Hopefully he’ll stay with us a bunch of years and win many more Super Bowls.”
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