Andy Reid is happy, and it’s not just because his football team gave Bill Belichick and the Patriots a black eye last week.
He’s happy because, at 59, he still is doing what he loves, which is coaching football.
“I enjoy every minute that I have an opportunity to do this, and I’m getting older, I know that,’’ Reid said earlier this week.
“Maybe I enjoy it even more now, I don’t know. I don’t know how that works. You can feel [you’re closer to the end]. So I enjoy every day I get to do this.’’
This is Reid’s 19th straight season as an NFL head coach. He did a 14-year tour with the Eagles, spent a couple of days out of work after they dismissed him in January 2013, then took the Chiefs’ job, where he’s led them to the playoffs three times in four years.
He accepted the job on one condition. He just wanted to coach. Told owner Clark Hunt he wanted “to get back to coaching football.” No more moonlighting as the de facto general manager as he did with the Eagles. He wanted to stick to what he did best, what he enjoyed most.
“Every day I’ve been here since the first installation in the first minicamp [in 2013], he has installed every play every day,’’ said Brad Childress, the Chiefs’ assistant head coach who has known Reid for more than 30 years and has worked alongside him for 13 of them, including seven with the Eagles.
“Wednesday, Thursday, Friday during the season [he has handled the play-installation]. Saturday. Saturday night at the hotel [before games]. He’s done every installation. He didn’t do that in Philadelphia. In Philly, he passed it to me. After I left [to become the Vikings’ head coach in 2006], he passed it to Marty [Mornhinweg].
“But that’s what he enjoys. He enjoys the football part of it. He was going to stay away from the personnel part of it and really dig in deep in the football part. And that’s what he’s done. That’s what he loves. You can see the enjoyment every day.”
When Reid was hired as the Chiefs’ head coach and offered the offensive coordinator’s to Doug Pederson, he was up front about the conditions. He told him that he would be the one installing the plays and he would be the one calling them.
“He made it black and white to me that he was going to be in front,” the Eagles coach said. “He said, ‘I’m going to be the one installing plays again. That’s what I love to do. I love teaching football.’
“He puts as much time into the presentation of the gameplan as he does studying the film and everything else that goes with it. And that’s just a tribute to him. He’s so excited when he’s up there talking. [He gets a] full-lather sweat, and he carries his towel and he’s into it. It’s just exciting to see him do it.”
Reid never considered taking time off after the Eagles fired him. Saw no reason for it. He wasn’t burned out.
Yes, dealing with Eagles fans and the Philadelphia media can wear you down. Especially 14 years of it.
And yes, he had lost his oldest son Garrett to a drug overdose seven months earlier.
But he’s a coach. Coaches coach. It’s not just what he does, it’s who he is.
“The thing I appreciate about Andy, especially at this stage of my own career, is you know exactly what you’re going to get from him every day,” Childress said. “Whether we’re 1-5 or 5-1, he’s strikingly the same.
“Not that he doesn’t have a great sense of humor or has flat-lined; he hasn’t. He’s as funny as it gets. But he doesn’t ride a roller coaster, and our guys appreciate that.
“This is a tough enough business without not knowing what you’re going to get from the guy you work for. Andy’s the same guy now that he was when I coached with him at Northern Arizona back in 1986.”
The end still is a long way off for Reid. He signed a five-year contract extension with the Chiefs in June. His teams have made the playoffs 12 times in 18 years.
Belichick is the only current NFL head coach with more overall wins than Big Red. Reid’s 185 victories with the Eagles and Chiefs are the 10th most in history. If he sticks around for at least the duration of his contract, there’s a pretty good chance he’ll move into the top 5.
But a Super Bowl title has eluded him, and with coaches and quarterbacks, Super Bowl rings carry a lot of weight.
When you mention Reid as a potential down-the-road Hall of Fame candidate to people, a lot of them look at you like you had just suggested kale is way more tasty than wings and a cold beer.
Reid is what hockey people call a grinder. He might be a little short on natural ability, but is long on work ethic. He might not be the best game-day coach who ever came down the pike, but few do a better job of preparing their team Monday through Saturday.
He keeps piling up wins, even if none of them have been in February yet. And he does it the same way he’s done it his entire career. Google even-keeled and there’s a picture of Andy.
“At my age (60), what I appreciate is someone I know and trust,” Childress said. “I can be truthful and honest with him, and he’s going to be that way with me. That’s rare in our business.”