His office? Your office?
“His office,” Jeffrey Lurie said. “When Andy and I talked, especially about these kinds of things, it was usually in his office. I just thought you showed respect by doing it that way.”
It was coming up on 9 o’clock on Monday morning. That is when the Eagles’ owner took the walk down the hall, the walk that he had been dreading. Out the door, down the hall, into a common area and then over to the football side of the NovaCare Complex. Maybe the walk took 15 seconds. Maybe a little bit more.
Fifteen seconds. Fourteen years.
Who should be the next Eagles coach?
Lurie had known he was going to fire Andy Reid for weeks. After 14 years, he was gong to dismiss the man who did more than anyone in the building to change the culture of the Philadelphia Eagles. It is not like firing a baseball manager or a hockey coach. When you fire a coach in the National Football League, you end up fundamentally altering just about everything involved on the football side of things. It isn’t like you’re just changing the bunt sign.
You say to Lurie that, given everything, it must have been such a weird and uncomfortable conversation. But he brightened at the memory. The press conference was over, and the post-press conference press conference was over, and he was swigging from a bottle of water and smiling what seemed to be a grateful smile -- grateful for Reid’s final act.
“It was so comfortable,” Lurie said. “Oh my God. We were both prepared for this in our own individual ways. We’re close. We’re friends. We knew, both of us. It was unspoken, but we knew. Part of me dreaded it but part of me just knew it was going to be comfortable. You work with somebody for 14 years and you just know.
“We knew it needed a change. It was time for him to have a change. He needs a change even though he was still fired up about the future here.”
We have not yet heard Reid’s side of the conversation. He talked to his players, and then to the entire front office staff, but he offered no public reaction to his firing. Maybe soon, maybe never -- with Reid, you can never be sure.
After today, all of the news looks forward -- to the search for a new coach, and to the decision on how the new coach and general manager Howie Roseman will work together, and to the ritual dismantling of the roster. Because no matter how much the players and Roseman spent Monday talking about a lack of chemistry and leadership in the locker room, Roseman acknowledged that the Eagles did overrate their talent in 2012. As he said, “You’re 4-12. It’s not just chemistry.”
Still, even though the future is more important now, this final day deserves to be respected. The man did win more games than anyone in franchise history. And while Lurie and Joe Banner were the ones who got the stadium and the practice facility built, it was Reid who turned the team into a winner on the field and who kept it there for more than a decade.
But even though it was time, and everyone knew it, that walk down the hall must have been hell. Pretty much every good thing that has happened to the Eagles under Lurie has happened with Reid as his coach. That is a mouthful, but it is true. You can foresee a hopeful future and still recognize everything Reid did. The walk down the hall had to have been hard.
“I don’t know,” Lurie said. “Maybe we’re just so comfortable with each other that, even under the duress of having to do this, it was OK. We were just honest with each other. We’ve been honest with each other forever.
“I was honest when I said that I was just so disappointed and felt like a change was necessary. He accepted my honesty. I accepted his honesty back.”
It was reported that Lurie actually fired Reid on Friday. Lurie said that was not true, but that there was a philosophical conversation between the two men that day.
“We did speak twice,” Lurie said. “We spoke on Friday but there was no decision made. He spoke about his hopes for the future. He offered me a great analysis of where we’re at, and his optimism about the future.
“Today? It was almost sort of a fait accompli. He knew, and I knew, that it was time. That was all.”
With that, for Jeffrey Lurie, there is a final reality on the last day of the Andy Reid era: that while this was certainly the right move, there are no certainties after today.