Super Man? Yeah, Andy Reid is that and more

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — For what had to feel like the millionth time, Andy Reid answered a question relating to BYU on Monday during the Super Bowl’s opening night event.

He didn’t groan, didn’t falter, didn’t brush off the obvious connection the Kansas City coach has to his alma mater, even if it’s a topic he’s been asked to discuss countless times over the years.

Reid just smiled, provided an answer and gave a little wink at the end.

That’s Andy Reid — affable and unflappable.

Reid has 221 wins as a head coach in the NFL and 15 playoff appearances. But Sunday’s Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium is just his second Super Bowl in a career that has included five losses in conference championship games, including last year’s defeat against New England. Despite what some already call a Hall of Fame career, Reid has yet to win that elusive championship.

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Kansas City’s beloved pro football franchise hasn’t been to the Super Bowl in 50 years — and there are lots of reasons Chiefs players want to win Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers. But winning a championship for their coach clearly matters. The players we spoke to this week in Miami seem to soak up Reid’s wisdom, relish his lovable nature and genuinely care for the 61-year-old coach whose approach is defined by effective teaching and consistency.

Running back LeSean McCoy said the possibility of helping Reid win a Super Bowl ring “would mean the world to me.”

“There’s a lot of guys on this team, but also a lot of former players that played for coach Reid, they really want him to win,” he said.

McCoy, who signed with Kansas City this year for his 11th NFL season, has firsthand knowledge of how the Chiefs’ cheering section will grow come Sunday.

“The last two weeks, I’ve had so many former players that played under Coach Reid, even coaches from different teams talk about that, ‘Dang man, we want Andy to get a ring.’ He deserves it,” McCoy said. “We feel that. I’m sure this Super Bowl, a lot of Chiefs fans will be cheering for us, cheering for coach Reid, but also a lot of former players — retired or even playing for other teams — will be cheering for him as well.” 

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, left, and running back LeSean McCoy celebrate on the sideline during game against the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. | AP

A coach and teacher

Back in the summer of 2017, just months after Hall of Fame coach LaVell Edwards passed away, Reid returned to BYU for the program’s annual media day to honor his college mentor and close friend.

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That day, Reid gave his own definition of what makes a great coach.

“Anybody can learn the schemes, given enough time,” he said. “But everybody can’t be a great teacher. The ability to communicate and know people, have some people skill, I think is important.”

He may as well have been describing himself, if you ask some of his players.

“That sums him up pretty good if you ask me,” said Chiefs offensive tackle Jackson Barton, a Utah and Brighton High product in his rookie NFL season. “Andy Reid’s a very great coach. He understands the game because he’s played the sport. He’s been at this a long time. You can tell just by the way he talks to us, he’s been in our shoes, he knows what is going to happen.”

Reid suited up for BYU on the offensive line from 1979-80, playing alongside Jim McMahon, after joining the Cougars following two years in junior college. He’s literally been in the trenches.

The teaching side of his job is something he embraces, thrives upon.

“Any chance he gets up in front of us — team meetings or on the field and he’s coaching us up — you can kinda see the way he approaches things,” former BYU safety Daniel Sorensen said. “He likes to break things down, he likes to teach, he likes to take those opportunities to teach. He does it in a personal way.”

“Andy Reid’s a very great coach. He understands the game because he’s played the sport. He’s been at this a long time. You can tell just by the way he talks to us, he’s been in our shoes, he knows what is going to happen.” — former Ute and current Chiefs offensive lineman Jackson Barton

When Sorensen left Provo in 2013, he went undrafted. He landed in Kansas City with Reid, who — along with the assistant coaches Reid surrounded himself with — found ways for the hardworking safety to stick around. That was six years ago, and Sorensen has only ever worn Kansas City red in his pro career.

Reid has given other coaches and players the chance to prove his intuitions right. Take the story of sixth-year running back Damien Williams, who signed with Kansas City in 2018 following four seasons with Miami. His time with the Dolphins ended with a dislocated shoulder.

How Reid treated Williams as he was trying to recover from the injury stuck out to him.

“That’s a soon-to-be Hall of Fame coach. I have all the respect for that man,” said Williams, who’s scored three touchdowns during Kansas City’s postseason run. “Those guys brought me in off of injury. A lot of teams like to steer away, and they’re scared.

“When I was doing my interview there, he just kind of sat off to the side — didn’t say a word, just kinda wanted to feel my vibe, feel who I was as a person.

“It would mean something special for me to get that trophy for him just because I know that he’s a great person at heart.”

McCoy has experienced the grind with Reid, having played for him in Philadelphia for four seasons from 2009-2012. It was then that McCoy discovered just how much Reid cares about the game.

“I remember when I was in Philly, the first time I ever saw a coach stay a night in the office, I thought that was crazy,” McCoy said. “He had a blow-up bed, and he worked there and was sleeping there. He’s always been like a father figure to a lot of players, so we have a lot of respect for him.”

The big game

The magnitude of Sunday’s matchup doesn’t faze Reid.

“The only thing I can control is how we work and do the things we do. May the best team win. That’s how we roll,” he said.

Reid has experience to lean on come Super Bowl Sunday. Fifteen years ago, he took the Philadelphia Eagles to Super Bowl XXXIX, only to have the Eagles fall short 24-21 in a loss to New England. That disappointment came with a valuable learning experience.

“If there’s anything comfortable about it, it’s that you’ve been there,” said Reid, who coached the Eagles for 14 years. “You know what to expect coming down here, you can relay that to your team. You have an idea how you want to practice. If you haven’t been here, you want to think that you get a ton down here, practice-wise and meeting-wise, but you have other obligations so you better get it done back at your home facility. Then you can sharpen it up once you get here.”

For his second attempt at winning a Super Bowl, Reid’s offensive arsenal in Kansas City includes one of the game’s top young quarterbacks — reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes — and features matchup headaches like Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, among others. It’s a big reason why the Chiefs are one win away from a title.

Reid’s willingness to embrace creativity and being one’s self is appreciated by those who call him coach. During Wednesday’s Super Bowl press conference, a reporter asked Mahomes about a story relayed by Williams, wherein Mahomes told the running back to close his eyes, run downfield and catch a pass from the quarterback.

“We joke around and have fun at practice and do stuff like that. Coach Reid lets us do stuff like that. It’s more about seeing what we can do, seeing what we can’t do and then being able to go out there doing the game and do the right things,” Mahomes said. “I think having a coach like Coach Reid, who lets us show our personality, lets us have fun every single day, it keeps us loose and keeps us ready to go during game days.”

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) talks with Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid during practice on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020, in Davie, Fla. | AP

Coaching with consistency

What you see with Reid is what you get, and that stands out to his players.

“I’m just going to be me, and if that’s not enough, I gave it my best shot,” the coach said.

He doesn’t do it alone, of course. Reid has assembled a coaching staff — assistants like offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and assistant head coach/special teams coordinator Dave Toub — that’s helped the Chiefs make the postseason five straight years.

“He’s been so consistent, whether we’ve lost a game here or there or we go on winning streaks, whatever it is, whatever’s going on with the team, he’s always been consistent and tried to keep us level,” said Alex Whittingham, the son of Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham who serves as Reid’s defensive quality control coach. “He’s the same guy, every day, and he’s always picking people up no matter the situation.” 

In addition to consistency, family and relationships play a pivotal role in the way Reid manages his team, Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu said.

“You can tell that he’s a guy that’s about the people. I can remember some of our first conversations and it’s all about family, it’s all about team, it’s all about being who you are. He makes us feel comfortable.” — Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu

“You can tell that he’s a guy that’s about the people. I can remember some of our first conversations and it’s all about family, it’s all about team, it’s all about being who you are. He makes us feel comfortable.”

Perhaps it’s appropriate two Chiefs players mentioned sugary concoctions while discussing the possibility of Reid adding a Super Bowl championship as a head coach to his already lengthy list of accomplishments.  

“In my book, he’s already a Hall of Fame coach,” Mathieu said. “I think winning this Super Bowl would just be icing on the cake.”

“Just to see him win and get a Super Bowl win (would be) the cherry on top of all the great success he’s already had,” said Darwin Thompson, a rookie running back out of Utah State.

It would be pretty sweet.

No matter how Sunday pans out, though, whether Reid earns his first Super Bowl ring as a head coach or whether San Francisco takes home the title, it’s a business that Reid finds joy in.

“It’s really a year-round business. We spend a lot of time in the offseason studying things we did the year before, incorporating new things and trying to get the players comfortable with it. We’re fortunate to have the guys we have that have bought into what we’re doing and they want more. That’s fun. That’s fun to be around,” he said.

“As a coach what’s your goal? You want to bring these guys one more thing that makes them even greater than they already are. And that’s what we do. We work very hard to do that.”