Charlie, Andy & Philly Mag

How we put together our new cover story—a meeting between Andy Reid and Charlie Manuel

As a general rule, issues of a monthly magazine are planned out fairly far in advance. The best stories take months to report, write, fact check, photograph, and design, and so at Philly Mag we try to come up with a game plan as far ahead of time as we can.

Except, of course, when we don’t.

Our September cover story, which hits the newsstands this week, is a perfect example of why, sometimes, acting at the last minute is the best way to create something that really captures what’s happening. A few weeks ago, as the Phillies mowed down opponent after opponent on a West Coast road trip and the Eagles seemed to land a high-profile free agent every 20 minutes or so, it occurred to us that there hadn’t been this much excitement about sports in Philadelphia since … well, ever. How best to capture the moment? We decided to see if we could get the guys who are most responsible for making the moment happen—Andy Reid and Charlie Manuel—to sit down and talk not just to us, but to each other.

So we reached out to reps from the Phillies and the Eagles, who both loved the idea—in part, it seems, because the two coaches already had a budding friendship. “I know Andy really likes Charlie, so this could be a lot of fun,” said Derek Boyko, the Eagles PR chief. After a few days of working out the logistics, the meeting happened on the afternoon of August 11th, inside the Eagles offices at the Novacare Complex, just a few hours before the team’s first preseason game against the Ravens.

You can read highlights of what the two men talked about here, in a sneak preview of our cover story. Beyond their words, however, what was fascinating to watch was how easily Andy and Charlie related to each other. They quickly discovered some mutual acquaintances (including Bud Grant, the former Vikings coach), and when the interview and photo shoot were over, Andy led Charlie on an extended tour of the Novacare Complex. The two men ended up back in Andy’s office, where the coach called the manager over to his desk and let him in on the first few plays the Eagles would be running that night.

The last few months haven’t been easy in Philadelphia—a looming Great Recession II, flash mobs, Rainmageddon, an earthquake, for Christ’s sake—but the fact that our sports teams are flying high makes the tough stuff a little easier to handle. And the fact that the two guys who run those teams have genuine respect and affection for each other may be the best news I’ve heard all summer.