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By Joseph Santoliquito
Kansas City, MO (CBS) — Andy Reid swept out of Philadelphia like a ghost amid black SUVs and private jets. Like he wasn’t here at all, failing to address the media one last time after he was fired by Eagles’ owner Jeffrey Lurie on December 31.
It only took Reid, the longest-tenured coach in Eagles’ history, four days to find a new job as the Kansas City Chiefs’ new head coach. But there were still some lingering questions that hovered over Reid that were left unanswered. And in Reid’s first public appearance as the Chiefs head coach on Monday, the same Reid that made press conferences in Philadelphia sometimes an annoying tug-of-war resurfaced in addressing the media again.
Reid said he liked the energy Clark Hunt, Chiefs’ Chairman and CEO, brought when the two met in Philadelphia last week, a meeting that turned out to be a nine-hour session.
“The last couple of year weren’t good enough, but I look at the whole picture of those 14 years and I take responsibility for all of them,” said a rosy-cheeked Reid. “I’m going to talk to the Philadelphia media today, and I had nothing but good things and good experiences in Philadelphia. Phenomenal people, absolutely phenomenal people. Ownership, the Luries, absolutely phenomenal people.”
Hunt admitted there were more interviews scheduled after Reid, but Hunt was so blown away with Reid, they felt no more interviews were needed.
“I’m very excited to be a Kansas City Chief,” Reid opened by saying. “When Clark called, I’ve been in this league a long time now, there are certain families that stand out, and the Hunt family is tops, they’re phenomenal people. When Clark called, he immediately had my attention. The fanbase here is phenomenal, and I came from a fanbase that was tremendous. The Kansas City Chief fanbase, there’s nothing like the sea of red. I’ve had an opportunity to play here, and play against the Chiefs, and it’s tough. I can’t wait to invite other teams to be challenged by the Chiefs’ kingdom, it’s a great environment. As a head football coach, you can’t ask for more.”
Reid then pulled up a seat with Hunt in what was intended to be an informal setting. Reid deflected any connection with Philadelphia, telling Comcast SportsNets’ Derrick Gunn he would address the Philadelphia media that made the trip later.
After going 4-12, the Eagles’ worst finish since they went 3-13 in 1998, the only public appearance Reid came out with was an in-house video released by the Eagles showing Lurie presenting Reid a game ball before Eagles’ employees in the NovaCare Complex cafeteria.
Reid was fired after only his third losing season in his 14-year tenure. He was the winningest coach in Eagles’ history, with a 130-93-1 record and 140-102-1 overall, including playoffs. He captured one NFC championship, six NFC East titles, and his teams reached the playoffs nine times in 14 years.
Going to Kansas City is somewhat of a homecoming for Reid. He was the offensive line coach at the University of Missouri from 1989-91 before joining Mike Holmgren’s staff in Green Bay as the Packers’ tight ends coach and assistant offensive line coach in 1992. Coaching at Missouri was Reid’s first major job after leaving the University of Texas El-Paso.
Kansas City may be a nice fit for Reid. He’s going from Philadelphia, the fourth-largest media market, to Kansas City, the 31st largest media market in the country with one major newspaper and no regional sports network.
Reid is actually a genial guy with a funny, dry sense of humor. But in Philadelphia, he chose not to bear that side of himself, instead remaining publicly reserved. He may get that chance to be a football coach and nothing more in Kansas City.
Chiefs’ fans are wired differently than Eagles’ fans. It’s a franchise that already has a leg up on the Eagles. The Chiefs have two Super Bowl appearances and won Super Bowl IV. But it’s a franchise that’s also gone 9-23 the last two years, slammed by this 2-14 2012 finish, the worst in Chiefs’ history.
The Chiefs have only been to the playoffs three times in the last 10 years. Their last playoff victory was 19 years ago, almost to the day, when the Chiefs beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime, 27-24 on January 8, 1994.
Reid, however, has a little something to build on, again, as he did in Philadelphia when he first took the Eagles’ job. The Chiefs have the first overall pick in the draft. The Eagles had the second overall pick in 1999 when Reid took Donovan McNabb with his first choice.
“I don’t have any regrets, I can leave Philadelphia saying I gave it my all, I can leave Philadelphia saying we had some great years there, I mean some great years, we were there a long time, I was there a long time and some of my staff members,” Reid said. “We were blessed to be there. Sometimes change is good. Things are going to be tremendous for the Philadelphia Eagles, and at the same hand, things are going to be tremendous for the Kansas City Chiefs.”
When asked about the power structure with the Chiefs, Reid said the general manager and he would answer to Clark Hunt. “Both of us answer to Clark, it’s as simple as can be. The general manager answers to Clark, and I answer to Clark. It will be different than Philadelphia a bit.”
Aside from NFC East rivals of Dallas, New York and Washington, the Eagles will host the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Arizona Cardinals, San Diego Chargers and—Reid’s Kansas City Chiefs.
Eagles’ fans will get one more chance to say goodbye to Andy Reid.
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.