When Andy Reid Met Charlie Manuel : A Q&A With the Head Coaches of the Eagles and the Phillies

With both teams flying high, there's never been a better time to be a Philadelphia sports fan. Philly Mag brought Andy Reid and Charlie Manuel together to jaw about their little-known friendship, the players they love, and what they really think about us

PM: I don’t think I’ve ever seen Philly sports fans as excited as they’ve been in the last few weeks. Do you guys feel that, too?

Reid: I think it’s great for the city. [points to Manuel] I think Coach made some great moves in the off-season. And there’s a great nucleus of players on the Phillies. They’re like trained killers. And I feel like we’ve got a great nucleus of players, and we’ve added a few guys to it. Now, Charlie’s doing it—he’s leading the big leagues right now and shooting for that championship. And we’re trying to put our thing together and make sure that we work hard to come together as a football team.

Manuel: Everybody who works in our locker room, I’m telling you right now, they love the Eagles. You should see the jerseys and things. The players and the kids who work in there—we talk about the Eagles all the time. Seriously.
Reid: I’ll tell you what’s neat. Free agents that we bring into town here? The first thing they buy—and a lot of them come in with it—is a Phillies hat. It’s a crazy deal.

Manuel: Our players sit there—Howard, Rollins, all those guys—they talk about the Eagles. And they hang jerseys in their lockers.

Reid: The players are friends. That’s kind of the neat thing about the two teams being right here [in South Philly]. The players get to know each other. That’s an awesome deal.

PM: Andy, some people have speculated that the Eagles made all these off-season moves because the Phillies have captured the town’s attention.

Reid: Listen, I respect the heck out of the Phillies. But that’s not what you do. They’re not doing it because of us, and we’re not doing it because of them. We’ve always tried to bring in good players. This has been kind of a weird off-season here, but … listen, Charlie’s done a great job. I don’t want it to sound wrong. The question—that’s a little tricky. Because we’re both trying to do the same thing. We’re both trying to get the best people in place that we possibly can.

PM: Actually, it sounds like you might have been as excited about the Cliff Lee signing as Charlie was.

Reid: [laughs] I admit it, I was fired up. I was sad to see him go [when he was traded in 2009]. Listen, I’m a spectator and a fan, looking at the Phils. I was disappointed when he left. But they filled his shoes quickly with a pretty good player [Roy Halladay], then they brought him back. That’s like double scoops of chocolate chip ice cream right there, man.

PM: One thing you guys have in common is that players really want to play for each of you.

Reid: It’s a people business when you’re a head coach. You gotta be able to communicate. You gotta be able to put everything on the table. You gotta tell somebody when he does good; you also gotta teach him when it’s not right. And make sure that there’s a consequence involved if they step over the line. And I think that’s really what all people want—they want to be treated fair. At the same time, I think 90 percent of people want to know how to get from point A to point B, so you gotta make sure you’ve got a well-thought-out plan. When players see that you’re all over the place, wishy-washy, you’re not gonna last long.

Manuel: I feel like what works for me is, I think I’m very genuine. I’m honest. And like Andy says, when you do something good, we pat you on the back, we applaud you, we tell you how good you are. But at the same time, when you need criticism, I like to bring you right in my office and sit you down and we’ll talk. And we’ll try to get things straight. And that’s where the genuine part comes in. I think honesty definitely plays a big part in it.
How about your relationships with team leaders? Are there specific guys you turn to?

Manuel: On our team, we have leaders. And a lot of them lead by example. Like Utley—he’s a very mentally tough player. Very hard worker. Repetition guy. Studies the game. And I think it’s just what he is, he’s a leader. He’s a guy that doesn’t have to say a whole lot—he just looks at you, and you can pretty much know what he’s thinking. Ryan Howard, he’s definitely a leader when he’s doing good. He kind of leads by example. If we have somebody who steps up—Rollins would be more vocal, probably, than some of the guys. But when we get right down to it, when we get something that’s a problem, they look to me to take care of it. That’s my job.

Reid: In football, it seems the head coach and the quarterback are the ones who are really stuck out there to the public. And so you look to bring in a guy who can handle that. Like Charlie says, I think all our players look in my direction when there’s gotta be a hard hammer to come down. At the same time, that peer pressure those guys can put on, that definitely doesn’t hurt. So Michael [Vick]—it starts with the quarterback. The same way when Donovan was here. It started with him.

PM: Andy, you played in college at BYU. Charlie, you played in the majors and in Japan. At what point did it dawn on each of you that you wanted to coach?

Manuel: I’ll tell you this story, Andy, since you say you liked the Dodgers. I was a bench player for the Dodgers, and for some reason [Dodgers manager] Walter Alston always liked to talk to me. And I remember one time he says, “One of these days, you’re gonna manage in the big leagues.” And I was like, “You gotta be kidding me. I’m gonna manage in the big leagues? Seriously?” And he goes, “I’ll give you some advice. You gotta weed out the losers.” I thought to myself, “Actually, he’s telling me to quit playing baseball.” [Reid and Manuel both burst into laughter]

A few years later, I went to Japan to play, and I finally got serious about baseball—about how much I loved it. I got to experience their culture and their ways, and the thing that I learned was, there were more people in the world than Charlie Manuel. And I made just like a 180-turnaround in attitude. Because I was kind of a red-ass guy, had a temper, a whiner. You know, I never realized how much of a whiner I was till I went to play baseball in Japan. I had a manager over there who told me, “If you could just do a little twinking of your thinking, you could get a lot out of this game.” And once I figured that out, from that day on, I became very positive, and then things started working for me.    

PM:  Andy, what made you want to coach?

Reid: My college coach, LaVell Edwards. He asked me just before my senior year if I’d ever thought about coaching. I hadn’t. I wanted to be a doctor. I was gonna be a doctor. So he said, “Listen, give it a shot.” So after my senior year, I stayed on as a graduate assistant. And liked it. So …

PM: And here we are.