He did, however, finally acquire a title that matches the control he already had. The day after firing football operations director Tom Modrak, owner Jeffrey Lurie and chief operating officer Joe Banner effectively emas-culated Modrak in their Reid announcement.
"If one [was] working on the inside of the Eagles for the last two years," Lurie said, "I think you'd recognize that virtually no decision gets made without Andy Reid's approval.
"In fact, in many cases he was on the forefront of those decisions. So I don't think that we're taking any greater risk in that area."
This, moments after Reid asserted, in reference to Modrak and player personnel decisions, "Really, Tom had final say in that department."
Really? Lurie later lauded Reid's evaluation of quarterback Donovan McNabb, whom the Eagles selected with the No. 2 pick in the 1999 draft.
Lurie also placed the acquisition of tight end Chad Lewis at Reid's feet. Lewis was claimed off waivers in 1999 and went to the Pro Bowl last season, and Lurie said Reid saw that potential. Similarly, Reid visited this year's first-round pick, wideout Freddie Mitchell, at UCLA before drafting him.
Lurie and Banner also said that Reid had no role in the decision to exercise the option in Modrak's contract that allowed the team to release him Monday without compensation. They denied reports before Modrak's dismissal that Reid's agent was negotiating not only to extend Reid's contract, but also to make Reid football operations director.
Lurie and Banner said they considered no other candidate for the post, though Lurie insisted, "There never was an effort to push Andy into this role."
In January, on the day Sherman, Reid's friend and Green Bay's head coach, assumed similar power after just one year as a head coach, Reid was asked by the Daily News if he aspired to such a post. Reid replied then that no, at that time, he had no interest, but at some point in his career he would like to try running a franchise. He said he had studied Packers general manager Ron Wolf and Modrak over the past decade, much the same way he prepared himself to be a head coach during his 17 years as an assistant.
Yesterday, when asked what had changed in the past five months, Reid said he could not recall being asked the question in January.
Modrak said in November he sensed his end was near. Apparently, at least subconsciously, Lurie was considering the move in January 1999, when he hired Reid.
"I sensed back then he was of CEO quality," Lurie said.
There was a feeling of tension at yesterday's news conference. Reid denied affecting a coup; Lurie and Banner spun the promotion of the coach who has no prior experience in any front office as a natural move made obvious by Reid's leadership qualities.
Reid displayed one such quality by not letting the tenor of the news conference become too confrontational.
Asked if he worried that the added responsibility would spread him too thin, the hefty, self-deprecating head coach replied: "I would love to spread myself thin." *
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