Wake-Up Call: Kelly’s Outside Influences

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

An author and public speaker by the name of Simon Sinek appeared at the Four Seasons in Philadelphia earlier this offseason to discuss concepts from his new book, Leaders Eat Last, “which explores how great leaders build confident teams by putting the needs of others first.” The main focus was the chemicals in our brain that influence our behavior and impact leadership capabilities.

Chip Kelly was among those in the audience.

One interesting thing about Kelly’s approach to his job is how frequently he looks outside his realm in hopes of gleaning something useful that he can pull in.

A good example came during a training camp practice last August. The Braves were in town to play the Phillies and a handful of the players and coaches decided to check out the Eagles for a day. Kelly was standing with the punt returners during the special teams portion of practice like he had so frequently that summer, as he worked to improve the group’s tracking skills.  A light bulb went off and Kelly dipped suddenly into the crowd and pulled a couple Braves onto the field to get some pointers. Who knows more about tracking balls than baseball players?

“I’ll take tips from anybody if they work,” said Kelly. “You’ve got pro baseball players that give you a better understanding of things. You get some experts here, you’re going to ask them.”

He goes to the hometown teams as well to expand his knowledge base.

 “I think we can learn from all of them. We’ve had a few come visit. Craig Berube was here the other day. I think the job he did taking over in the situation he took over in, I thought it was remarkable. Got a chance to visit with him during the season a couple of times. He had a chance to watch practice. I think he’s a guy. I visited with Brett [Brown] since the Sixers season ended and we’ve had a few real good conversations, and kind of what they’re trying to do and what we’re trying to do. I think there are other guys. Fortunately, for me in the city, I had a real good visit with Ryne [Sandberg] when I had a chance to go over there right when they got back from spring training and had a chance to talk to him a bit. But there are other guys in other sports — [Heat coach] Erik Spoelstra has been out to visit us when we were at Oregon and he’s been here to visit  — there are a lot of different people in different sports, and I think we can learn from.”

Kelly brings in guest speakers to address his team and offer a different perspective. The night before a game during his talk at the hotel, he’ll often draw on stories from the outside world — from extreme kayaking to Warren Buffett  impersonators — that hold an applicable message.

He studies the military, and is particularly drawn to the Navy Seals.

I make it a habit of trying to study high performance organizations and it doesn’t have to be football,” he said. “It can be the military, it could be a business, it could be sports teams from other sports besides ourselves. I think we’re just trying to get better.



If Kelly had it his way, the NovaCare Complex would be a building without doors. 

One national writer believes Kelly is one of the 10 most influential people in the game.

Josh catches us up on the latest happenings in the division in his NFC East roundup.


Jeff McLane writes that Kelly is a stickler for discipline, even when it comes to something like ensuring his players stay on the walkway and off the NovaCare lawn.

Kelly’s keep-off-the-grass rule dates back to Oregon. The “why,” according to Eagles rookie and former Ducks receiver Josh Huff, is “don’t take any shortcuts in life, and always do the right thing even though the wrong thing might get you to the door quicker

“What you try to get across to guys is you have to think about things,” said Eagles defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro, who also worked with Kelly at Oregon. “Maybe you’re not going to think about it as deeply and say somebody mowed that lawn, somebody spent hours preparing that thing, but I think as you’re around really good people, good people don’t do that.

The division isn’t looking very daunting, says Tommy Lawlor. 

I just don’t see the Giants, Skins or Boys as likely playoff teams, barring something major happening.

The Giants have a new offensive coordinator and new offense. That could help, but the O-line still has issues and the front seven might be a major mess. The Skins have a new head coach and that can be a good or bad thing depending on how he works out. They were just 3-13 a year ago, but really fell apart, losing their final 8 games. The Boys are the kings of 8-8, having finished with that record for 3 straight years. The defense will now be run by Rod Marinelli, but a coaching change won’t make up for a lack of talent across the board.

No one is saying the Eagles are perfect, but they sure seem to be the dog with the least amount of fleas.


Vacations are over. Training camp starts this week. We’re ready to roll.