clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

How can you not cheer for Andy Reid?

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid speaks during a news conference on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020, in Aventura, Fla., for the NFL Super Bowl 54 football game.
Brynn Anderson, Associated Press

Seriously, how can you not cheer for Andy Reid in Sunday’s Super Bowl?

How can you not cheer for a guy who has — hmmm, how to put this? — a bigger weight problem than you do? It’s difficult to find his weight on the internet but one source listed it as 265 — uh, yeah, sure. Reid has undergone numerous weight loss binges. In 2009, it was reported that he shed 75 pounds. In 2017, it was 60 pounds. Who knows where things stand now, but Reid’s former BYU teammate Jim McMahon told ESPN that he saw Reid recently and told him, “Man, I wish you were this big when we were back at BYU. It would’ve taken defenders a little while longer to get around you.”

Reid can put it away. A waitress once told him that if he could finish a 40-ounce steak in less than an hour, he’d get his picture on the wall. Reid was done in 19 minutes.

How can you not cheer for a coach who is so well liked by his players that they wore Hawaiian shirts — Reid’s sartorial choice when he goes casual — on the team flight to Miami this week. KC trainer Rick Burkholder told ESPN, “I’ve known (running back LeSean McCoy) since high school. And when he chose to sign here, I said, ‘Why us? Is it because of (quarterback Patrick Mahomes)?’ And he goes, ‘No, man, it’s because of Andy.’ How many people take less money and a backup role just to play for a man? In this day and age? I don’t think that happens.”

Burkholder reported that even Terrell Owens came to the team hotel once to visit Reid, the coach who released him. Of course everybody likes Reid now. After the Chiefs won the conference championship game, chants of “Andy!” filled the stadium. A Kansas City radio station proclaimed Jan. 30 Andy Reid Appreciation Day.

How can you not like a guy who is, well, a lot like the late LaVell Edwards, maybe the most likable college football coach ever. He was also Reid’s college coach and longtime friend and mentor. It was Edwards who convinced Reid to become a coach, and it was Edwards whom Reid called weekly to talk about music, books, movies, family and even a little football.

Like Edwards, Reid is kind, devoid of ego, witty and has a knack for getting along with everyone. Burkholder told ESPN, “Andy’s been in the NFL for 21 years, and I don’t think he has a single enemy.” That’s exactly what they said about Edwards. Oh, and Reid loves the passing game — undoubtedly a carryover from serving as Edwards’ grad assistant in 1982 and playing for Edwards from 1978-80. In his last game as a Cougar, Reid was a backup offensive tackle on the team that overcame a 45-25 lead in the last four minutes of the Holiday Bowl with the pass game.

How can you not cheer for a head coach who was formerly an offensive lineman, the most inglorious position in sports. At the end of the 2019 season, there were 11 former college quarterbacks among the 32 NFL head coaches — and just two former offensive linemen.

How can you not cheer for a guy who once hoped to become — egads — a sports writer. He actually wrote columns for the Provo Daily Herald while attending and playing football for BYU. He told the Kansas City Star he still has the columns he wrote, but he didn’t want to make them public. “It would be a bad, ugly deal,” he said. Some of the columns found their way onto the internet anyway. Let’s just say that if he coached like he wrote columns, he’d be out of work.

How can you not cheer for a guy who has come this close to winning it all but has been denied. He has taken 15 of his 21 teams to the playoffs, seven times to the conference championship game, where he has won only twice. He has taken both the Eagles and the Chiefs to the Super Bowl, one from each conference.

The difference he makes in a team is obvious. He took over the 3-13 Eagles and two years later they qualified for the first of four consecutive conference championship games and a berth in the Super Bowl. He took over the Chiefs, who had had five losing seasons the previous six years and had just completed a 2-14 campaign, and a year later they were 11-5 and in the playoffs. In his seventh season, he took them to their first Super Bowl in 50 years.

How can you not cheer for the star of the now-famous video that featured the finals of the 1971 Punt, Pass & Kick contest during halftime of the Redskins-Rams game in the L.A. Coliseum — a 13-year-old man-child identified on the TV screen as “Andrew Ried (sic).” His opponents barely reached his waist. He was so big — reportedly 6-foot-2, 220 pounds — that contest officials couldn’t find a uniform that would fit him, so they used the uniform of Les Josephson, the Rams’ starting running back (he was 6-1, 207). You really should watch the video online.

How can you not cheer for a guy who played high school basketball the same way he played football. His high school coach Dick Kirwan told Chiefs.com about a basketball game during Reid’s junior year: “I put him in at forward and he had four fouls in less than two minutes. I remember pulling him out because he was just dribbling down the floor and running over people. I remember taking a timeout and saying, ‘Andy, what are you doing?’ and he looked at me like, ‘What?’”

How can you not cheer for a guy who has a sense of humor — especially when it comes to his weight — and doesn’t take himself too seriously (are you paying attention, Gregg Popovich, Nick Saban, Steve Kerr?). Referring to the 60-pound weight loss as well as the other weight losses he’s undergone, Reid said, “I’ve lost (the equivalent of) a lot of human beings. I’ve had a lot of friends that have been hanging onto my love handles for a while. … I’ve dropped them off every once in a while. This was just a small child. It was about 60 pounds we were able to drop off, and hopefully he stays away.”

On a weight loss contest he entered and won: “It wasn’t too much of a contest. We were betting cheeseburgers.” Reid, whose regular-season win-loss record is 207-108, once said, “I’m still waiting for my win total to exceed my weight.” Asked once if he had done anything fun during the offseason, he said, “I attacked a couple chile rellenos.”

How can you not pull for a guy who’s living proof that the best revenge is living well. The Eagles fired him after 14 years, and he had to wait all of four days to interview for the Chiefs head coaching position. Now he has taken them to the Super Bowl.

How can you not like a guy who makes a gaffe like the one he committed in a postgame speech to the Chiefs this season: “Hey, not all of Mozart’s paintings were perfect! That was beautiful, man. Hey, the end result though, that sucker is going to sell for a million dollars.” Yep, and Van Gogh’s concertos weren’t perfect, either.

How can you not like a guy who was so meticulous in his preparation that the Eagles hired him as their head coach at the age of 40, despite never having previously held a coordinator’s position. As former Eagles president Joe Banner told ESPN, “We made a list of every coach that had been to at least two Super Bowls, going back to the Bill Walshes and the Joe Gibbses, and we tried to study what they had in common. Some were older, younger, offensive-minded, defense, ran the ball, passed the ball; what they had in common had nothing to do with football. ... So I started calling GMs and asking, ‘Do you have anyone on your staff that the players complain about because he’s so obsessed with details?’ And in comes Andy to our interview with a giant book — they are common now but not back then — and this book is five inches thick and had everything laid out in such detail, about every part of how he’d run the team. I mean, everything: from how he’d run camp, to his top 10 candidates for every assistant-coaching position, and summaries, honestly, summaries of every opening speech of every coach he had ever worked for.”

How can you not cheer for a guy who simply has an eye for talent. The Chiefs were so sure that Mahomes was a future star that they traded a 2017 first-round pick, a third-round pick and a 2018 first-round pick to move up to No. 10 in the draft so they could snag the quarterback after nine teams passed him by; then doubled down on the bet and released starting quarterback Alex Smith following Mahomes’ rookie season.

It’s not as if this were the first time he saw what many others didn’t see. The Eagles passed up the obvious choice in running back Ricky Williams to draft quarterback Donovan McNabb with the second overall pick of the 1999 draft and McNabb took the Eagles to the Super Bowl. As McNabb’s skills began to erode with age, Reid did it again — he signed Michael Vick straight out of prison and Vick proceeded to have the best seasons of his career after six seasons in Atlanta.

How can you not cheer for “Andrew Ried”?