Andy Reid has never been one to pour out his emotions publicly. And he predictably deflected questions about his return to Philadelphia this week by turning the conversation to the game at hand.
But as time began ticking off the clock Thursday night and victory was his, the generally stoic Reid looked downright giddy. His players topped the night by giving their new head coach a Gatorade bath and carried the celebration in the locker room. Reporters waiting for Reid in the press conference area could hear the festivities loud and clear.
“It was a big roar, a big cheer, we were cheering Andy on,” said running back Jamaal Charles. “He wanted to get this win. He may not tell anyone but at the end of the day, he had the biggest smile on his face.”
Reid still wore the look of a happy man as he made his way to the podium.
“You put it out of your mind the best way you possibly can,” said Reid of returning to Philly as an opposing coach, less than nine months after being relieved of his duties with the Eagles. “I mean, 14 years is 14 years — that’s a long time, especially for a chubby old guy. I can tell you I enjoyed every minute here. I am enjoying my time in Kansas City. Coming back, I didn’t think much about it until the game was over. It was great to see the guys, the players that are here, and I got a chance to speak to a couple of them after the game. It’s all kind of settling in right now. I’m not sure exactly how I feel other than I’m glad we won the game.”
His wife, Tammy, was in the room as is custom, and was all smiles as she watched her husband answer questions about his triumphant return.
Downplay it all you want, but this couldn’t have been just any game for Reid, right?
“Yeah, it was different. I’m on the opposite end of the field…but I wasn’t caught up in that part of it,” he said. “I was too busy — it was probably a good thing it was a short week — I was too busy trying to make sure we had the offense and the defense and the special teams going right that I didn’t have time to think about all the other stuff that goes along with it.”
Reid joked during the week that he was going to have Donovan McNabb come out of the tunnel with him to help take some of the heat the Philadelphia fans may throw his way. But it was all love on this night, at least before the game. He received a standing ovation as he took the field, and the Eagles put up a “Thank you” message on the big screen briefly, listing all of his achievements while head coach of the Eagles.
“I did, I saw that, I appreciated that. It was very kind of the Luries, and of Jeffrey to do that and for the fans the way they reacted there,” he said.
Reid talked briefly with Chip Kelly before the game. Spoke with Jeremy Maclin and several of the players during warm-ups. The game soon took over and his former players morphed into the opponent. He was back in his element, where the task at hand blocks out all the “fluff,” as he called it on Tuesday. But when the task was completed, we saw the human side of Reid come out.
“We wanted it for him,” said cornerback Brandon Flowers. “We appreciate Coach and what he does for this franchise. Even though he thought it was just a game, we definitely wanted it for him.”