“One person that I really want to thank in terms of advice with this whole thing was Andy Reid,” Kelly said, sitting next to Jeffrey Lurie in the Novacare auditorium Thursday afternoon. “And the fact that Andy reached out to me and told me about his experience here just told me what this organization is all about. There’s not a classier guy. When Andy texted me yesterday when I accepted the job, I told him I had really, really, really big shoes to fill, and in typical Andy fashion, he said, ‘Just be yourself and you’ll be fine.’ So I want to just publicly thank Andy, because that really right there spoke to me about what this organization is all about.”
But Reid wasn’t the only person who Kelly talked to during the last couple weeks.
A concern with Kelly is that he has no NFL experience. He’s never been a head coach, coordinator or position coach at the professional level. Has he made enough connections to put together a staff? Does he know enough people?
Kelly alleviated some of that concern when asked who in the league helped him during the information-gathering process.
“Everybody was great,” Kelly said. “I didn’t talk to anybody that was coaching because they’ve got jobs to do. Jon Gruden’s a good friend, and Jon spent time here. Tony Dungy’s son was on my team at Oregon. I’ve always had a chance to talk to Tony. Dick Vermeil and Andy. …And a lot of times, it was questions about the NFL. Other times, with Gru and Dick and Andy, it was questions about Philadelphia.”
The grouped served as an intermediary of sorts. Lurie thought Kelly was definitely a fit after the nine-hour meeting in Arizona. And Kelly liked the Eagles. But during the process, both were speaking to third parties to make sure they were making educated decisions.
“It’s ironic,” Lurie said. “We spoke to a lot of the same people, not knowing the other one’s talking to the same people. I know he’s close with Tony Dungy. I know he’s close with Jon Gruden, and we all are. I talked to Jon a lot and am very close to Tony as well.”
If you’re wondering whether Lurie interviewed Gruden himself for the coaching job…
“No, I don’t think Jon’s coming back to the NFL this year at all,” he said. “But I respect him and his opinion and we talk a lot.”
Gruden stays in the broadcast booth. Reid moves on to Kansas City. Dungy is in studio for NBC. And Vermeil is enjoying retirement.
But all played a role in the Eagles landing Kelly.