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

Reid: You know what’s neat about it? He’s called me once a week since I left there—my college coach. He’s checked on me once a week since I left. Isn’t that great?

Manuel: That’s good. That’s real good.

PM: Charlie, if Michael Vick were a baseball player, would you have taken the same chance on him that Andy did?

Manuel: Yeah, I would. We had a kid who lived right next to me in Florida, Billy Hardee. He got a scholarship to Virginia Tech. And he was a safety at the same time Vick went to school there. And I’d always ask him when he came home about how good Vick was and things like that. So I followed Virginia Tech, and I thought Vick was a great talent. And around that Blacksburg area, I saw the good things he did. I saw everything good about what he did. He was a tremendous athlete. I never met him or nothing, but I loved to watch him.

PM: One of the things you’re known for, Charlie, is how loyal you are to your players. You stuck with Brad Lidge as your closer even when he struggled a couple of years ago. Andy, do you have that kind of patience?

Reid: Listen, you asked that one question before about what people don’t know? You’re dealing with young men. And there’s a whole lot of things that go on—not all of them are public. You’re juggling a lot of different backgrounds, a lot of different egos. I always say there’s a whole lot of testosterone bouncing around the locker room—these are young men. And so you deal with that. You’re kind of, within the building, in a father role, helping them out through different situations. To answer your question, I probably would [have stuck with Lidge]. I mean, I don’t know the whole story. But I probably would have.

PM: A question for both of you: Who’s your favorite player on the other guy’s team?

Reid: I’ll tell you what, man. Somebody asked me this about the Dodgers [from the ’70s]. And I’m going … Ron Cey, Bill Russell, Lopes, Garvey—those guys were always there together, and they were kind of one guy. It was like this one unit. And so Charlie’s got these guys who have been here for so long. Victorino, and Utley, and Jimmy—they all seem to be tough, tough guys. And Howard. They’ve got the certain attitude that’s kind of neat to watch.

PM: But is there one guy in particular where you go, “He’s a football player”?

Reid: He’s got a few of them. And then his pitching group. Some of those guys are pretty good-sized guys. Good tight ends. [laughs]

PM: Which Eagle could play for you, Charlie?

Manuel: I like Vick. I used to like McNabb. Don came over to the park a few times, and I got to talk to him some. I always had respect for him because he came across to me as a strong, mentally tough kind of guy.

PM: Andy, you’ve lived here for 12 years. Charlie, you’ve been here seven. Tell me something you like about Philadelphia.

Reid: I love the food. I’ll tell you, I didn’t get this way [he touches his stomach] by being a closet eater. The food’s phenomenal. The people are phenomenal. Outside of Philadelphia, people think, “Oh, this is a rough city, they gotta beat you up when you go out in public.” But they really don’t. I’m not sure I’ve paid for a meal when I’ve gone out for dinner. The people are warm, they’re honest. To stay someplace for as long as we have, you can’t dislike it. 

Manuel: When I was in high school, we used to study world history. And Pennsylvania was one of the main states we studied—the Declaration of Independence and all that. When I went to work for the Phillies, I got to go through all the coal-mining stuff in Scranton and that area, the Poconos. I like all that. Matter of fact, I really like that. I like to go to Amish country. It’s a very pretty state. And I’m like Andy, I like the restaurants. But I don’t get to go to a lot of places. Actually, Andy, Missy will tell you, the only place I ever go is from the ballpark to my house.

PM: Do each of you feel a lot of pressure to win it all this season?

Reid: We’re in the day-in, day-out operation of it, so we’re just in the moment. We’re trying to find that next win. There’s no time for the nerves and all that stuff.

Manuel: Pressure’s all in what you put on yourself. I think that excellence and having to master how you play—I think if you stay with that and you stay the course and you love everything about it. … I’ve been in baseball ever since I was 18 years old. I eat and sleep baseball. I’m the first guy to the ballpark—I’m there at eight o’clock when we have a day game. And night games or on the road, I get there at 10 or 11. I’m the first guy to the ballpark. Halladay don’t beat me, because I make it a point to not let him. That’s who I am.

PM: You spend a little time here too, right, Andy?

Reid: [smiles] Yeah, I do.

Manuel: You just get wrapped up in it. It’s hard to explain. Playing was, for me, the greatest thing I could ever do. I used to get sent down [to the minors] from the big leagues a lot. But I loved to play, and it didn’t really matter where at. And I still feel the same way. I’m very fortunate to be managing in the major leagues. That’s kind of how I look at it.

PM: With luck, we’ll have two parades down Broad Street this year. Charlie, you were part of one in 2008. What’s it feel like?

Manuel: When we won the World Series that year, I think it took—for our players, and also the crowd—I think it took a little while for it to sink in. It was like we crossed the finish line and somebody stopped us and told us we won. Really, I kind of felt that way. [But then] everything about it became real. The parade was definitely real. Everything was exciting. Everything was very positive. People are touching you. They’re screaming and hollering. Actually, when the parade started and they started hollering “Charlie!,” I was kind of embarrassed until I finally started liking it.

Reid: You were going like this [Reid raises arms in the air]: “Yeah!”

Manuel: [laughs] Really, Andy, it’s kind of embarrassing. I didn’t want to tell nobody. But I started liking it. Everything about it was absolutely honest and real. They were just excited, they were overjoyed. That was something.

PM: Last thing: predictions. Charlie, are the Eagles going to win the Super Bowl?

Manuel: I think the Eagles can win the Super Bowl. It’s a long journey, but at the same time, you can get it done.

PM: Andy, another World Series for the Phils?

Reid: Absolutely. If the pitching staff stays healthy, right, Coach?

Manuel: Yeah.