Inquirer Editorial: Reid is leaving Eagles, but it's as a winner

Former Eagles head coach Andy Reid
Former Eagles head coach Andy Reid
Posted: January 06, 2013

With Andy Reid all set to ride off into the sunset, Eagles fans should take a moment to remember the good times the fired football coach brought to town.

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie dismissed Reid last week after the Birds' embarrassing 42-7 loss to the New York Giants to close the season. But the end had become apparent long before that. Many fans had become impatient as the team meandered to a 4-12 record, one of the worst in recent team history.

The nightmarish record was a far cry from what was expected when the season began amid talk of playoff wins and a Super Bowl championship. All of those plans quickly unraveled amid disappointing losses resulting from poor play and key player injuries.

That's all over now. So, take time to remember that Reid is the all-time winningest coach in Eagles history. He had an impressive run, even when doubters began calling for his ouster years ago.

Before his dismissal, Reid was the longest-tenured coach in the NFL. Fourteen years is a long time, especially in a city like Philadelphia, where winning is everything. Reid is also a three-time Coach of the Year.

None of that was expected when Reid came to Philadelphia from the Green Bay Packers in 1999 as a relatively unknown quarterbacks coach with no experience as a head coach in the NFL. Reid helped change the local sports culture and made the most skeptical fans believe that a Super Bowl championship was possible.

In 2004, the Eagles did reach the Super Bowl under Reid, for only the second time in franchise history, only to lose to the New England Patriots, 24-21. Four years later, the city finally broke its championship curse when the Phillies won the World Series. It was the city's first championship in 28 years. But that didn't satisfy what has long been considered a football town.

Under Reid, the Eagles had 65 road wins, the most in the NFL since 1999. Between 1999 and 2012, the Eagles were 130-93-1. Along the way, the Eagles won a conference title and six division titles. The team made the playoffs eight times. But no Super Bowl crown.

It seems like ancient history now, but Reid had only three losing seasons. His teams had fans packing into Veterans Stadium, and later Lincoln Financial Field, to watch some of the more memorable players to ever wear Eagles green, including Donovan McNabb, Terrell Owens, Brian Westbrook, Brian Dawkins, LeSean McCoy, and of course Michael Vick.

On the sidelines was the walrus-mustached Reid, a commanding presence, and highly respected in the league. He ranks fifth among active coaches in wins behind the Patriots' Bill Belichick, the Washington Redskins' Mike Shanahan, the Giants' Tom Coughlin, and the St. Louis Rams' Jeff Fisher.

Philadelphians will also remember Reid for the emotional roller coaster his family endured as they tried to handle the drug addictions of his sons Garrett and Britt, both of whom spent time in prison as a result. The city ached along with Reid and his wife, Tammy, when Garrett was found dead at Eagles training camp last summer from a heroin overdose.

Now it's time for the city to wish the coach well.

Many believed Reid would be fired after the Eagles finished the 2011 season with an 8-8 record, but Lurie gave his friend another chance. The chances have run out now. "We knew we needed a change," Lurie said.

Reid will undoubtedly land another coaching job in the NFL. In fact, the Kansas City Chiefs reportedly had prepared a contract for him to sign Friday. So, it looks like Reid will be walking the sidelines as a head coach again next season. If so, Philadelphians should wish him every success, unless he's playing the Eagles.

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