INDIANAPOLIS – Andy Reid watched Super Bowl LII from his beachfront home in Southern California, watched his protege, Doug Pederson, hoist the Lombardi Trophy that Reid never quite got his arms around, in 14 Eagles seasons, during which Reid went to the NFC championship game five times and won more games (130) than any coach in Eagles history.
Reid, whose Kansas City Chiefs lost in the wild-card round to Tennessee, said he has spoken since with Pederson, team owner Jeffrey Lurie, and football operations vice president Howie Roseman.
“Had a chance to sit there and watch it, enjoy every minute of it. Very, very proud of Doug,” Reid said at the NFL scouting combine. “Very happy for the city of Philadelphia. They’ve waited a long time for that. I think it’s great for the Lurie family and the organization, all around.”
Chip Kelly, meanwhile, was also in Southern California on Feb. 4, settling in as the new football coach at UCLA. He, too, caught the game. His perspective was different from Reid’s; Kelly spent only three years with the Eagles, and as you might remember from those joint Eagles-Patriots training camp practices, he has close friends on the New England staff. He was pretty neutral as observers go.
“I had been removed for a couple of years before they played. It wasn’t weird,” Kelly said over the phone, when asked if it felt odd, watching the Eagles, many of whom he coached, win the Super Bowl. “It was a hell of a football game.”
Kelly remains close to some of the coaches who stayed on with Pederson after he left, including special-teams coordinator Dave Fipp, secondary coach Cory Undlin, and offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland. He said he has texted with Fipp, Stoutland, and tight end Brent Celek about the victory.
Reid, asked who he was happiest for, said: “Jeffrey and [ex-wife] Christina. People who have been there, even before I got there. The owner of the team, and then, the fans. Those fans – nobody deserves it more than them.”
Kelly mentioned a host of coaches and players. “They played their asses off,” he said. “I’m really happy for them.”
Reid deemed the “Philly Special” fourth-down touchdown pass from Trey Burton to quarterback Nick Foles late in the second quarter “a heck of a call.”
Watching, was he surprised Pederson didn’t take the field goal?
“No, I wasn’t, because he’s an aggressive play-caller. I watched him all year, I watched him when he was with us. I was proud of him for just knocking that one out,” Reid said. “I think the quarterback went over and said, ‘Let’s run it right here.’ They were on the same page, which makes it even more impressive.”
Kelly didn’t have the same feel for Pederson’s play-calling, but he noted that when he was coaching at Oregon, he tried to recruit Burton as a quarterback, so he wasn’t shocked to see him throwing.
“It was a hell of a call at a hell of a time,” Kelly said.
Kelly said he didn’t think about how, if things had gone differently, it might have been him wearing Pederson’s visor. He thought about how great it was for his friends and former players.
“It’s something they’ll remember for the rest of their lives,” he said. “Celek had told me two weeks before that he felt so good about it, he thought they were going to win it.”
If it was bittersweet for Reid, watching Pederson achieve something in his second year in charge that has eluded Reid through 19 seasons as an NFL head coach, there was no trace of that in Reid’s demeanor. Scorn him if you want for the clock management debacle that doomed the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX, against the same Patriots dynasty Pederson found a way to beat, but this also is true: Doug Pederson was on no team’s radar as a head coaching candidate in 2016. He is the Eagles’ coach because Reid sold him to Lurie and Roseman, who went to Reid for ideas, after Lurie’s Kelly experiment failed spectacularly.
Of course, there are plenty of other Reid-Kelly connections to the Super Bowl victory. Jason Kelce, everyone’s favorite Mummer, was drafted by the Reid regime in 2011 and started two seasons as Reid’s center and three more under Kelly. Jason’s brother Travis is Reid’s star tight end in Kansas City, whose second-quarter concussion turned the tide of the Chiefs’ playoff loss.
“I watched the beginning of it,” Reid said, when asked about the Eagles’ parade. “I saw Kelce decked out; I saw him grab a beer and start walking, I said, ‘This is going to be a long day [of celebration].’ ”
Reid said he didn’t see Kelce’s speech on the Art Museum steps live, but when he learned of it, his thought was: “That wasn’t the only beer he had.”
“It’s been a while since Philly’s won the big one,” said Reid, ever the master of understatement. “He was going to get every minute out of it he could.”
Reid was the coach who drafted Foles, in 2012, Kelly was the coach who oversaw his 27-touchdown, two-interception season in 2013.
“Credit to Nick, because he’d been through so much,” Kelly said. “The cool part is, I think you knew on the first series just how calm, cool, and collected he was; the moment was not too big. He’s a special person, in so many ways. For him to finally win something like that is awesome. … It was just vintage Nick Foles. Kind of stayed in the moment and played football.
“There’s not a better person that I’ve had an opportunity to spend time with than Nick … It was a special year for him, a special year for that team, and a special year for the city. That’s awesome.”