In Search Of Chip Kelly
Philadelphia Magazine’s Robert Huber went on a journey to find out who Chip Kelly is.
Below are a couple excerpts from his article.
BEFORE I MADE THE TRIP to New Hampshire, I learned some things.
It’s clear, for example, that Chip Kelly doesn’t give a rat’s ass what other people think of him. Which some people find quite discombobulating. An NFL insider who spent hours with Kelly over dinner a few years ago describes a surreal divide: Chip has a brilliant football mind and can talk endlessly about the game — at warp speed, the way he always talks — but doesn’t seem to be there with you in the moments that aren’t about football. He won’t make eye contact. He seems to be daydreaming, and you sit there wondering what he’s really thinking. Usually, of course, getting to know someone is a combination of what he’s saying and how he feels to you, his body language, the little interjected moments of, say, “How’s your steak?” Chip seems devoid of those moments. He shares almost nothing of himself. He doesn’t ask questions. He doesn’t seem normal, says the NFL guy, who was left, after spending several hours with Kelly, with the most basic fear:
Doesn’t Chip like me?
He sneaks off to play Santa for sick children. He pops up at a military funeral to honor a slain soldier’s bravery. Eagles linebacker Brandon Graham reveals a decorum that Kelly demands at the Eagles practice facility: “Coach tells us to treat the NovaCare kitchen staff with respect.” I discover a boathouse bar near Kelly’s house where he sometimes goes with his girlfriend for sliders; the waitresses there started taking turns serving them, because of a certain generosity: If Chip and his girlfriend spend a hundred bucks on sliders, they leave another hundred as a tip.
He also travels some. Three years ago, Kelly took a trip to Africa with the Nike Foundation to visit with adolescent girls who were living in extreme poverty. “They all have such a positive outlook,” Kelly said when he came home. “Maybe they have the secret and we don’t.” That same year, Chip took friends to Spain to run with the bulls in Pamplona; the night before, he had his compatriots watch film of previous bull runs to plot their strategy. To make a game plan.
These clues suggest a guy of principle and some interest in the world apart from football. Though the more I consider his obsession with the game, the more I think trying to make Chip into something of a well-rounded man misses the point entirely. Let’s take him at his word and primary deed. Whoever he is, whoever he most fundamentally is, that’s where it clearly lies. With football.
Click here to read the full article from the latest edition of the magazine.