From the beginning of his introductory press conference Thursday, head coach Chip Kelly made it clear that his decision to leave the University of Oregon wasn’t one he made lightly. It required thought, careful consideration and privacy.
It also required some guidance.
During his decision-making process, Kelly spoke with several NFL coaches. He talked to former Colts head coach Tony Dungy, whose son Eric is a wide receiver at Oregon. He also talked to former Eagles coaches Dick Vermeil and Jon Gruden. But Kelly said there was one coach in particular whose words illustrated just how special the Eagles organization is – Andy Reid.
“Dick Vermeil and Andy (Reid) are probably the guys that I spoke to the most about the opportunities,” Kelly said. “A lot of times it was questions about the NFL, but it grew and it was questions about Philadelphia.”
Clearly Kelly liked what he heard. While he didn’t divulge what Reid said to him, Kelly did make sure to thank the former Eagles coach at the beginning of his press conference.
“One person I want to thank, in terms of advice in this whole thing, is Andy Reid,” Kelly said. “And the fact that Andy reached out to me and told me about his experience here just told me what this organization is all about. There’s not a classier guy. When Andy texted me (Wednesday) when I accepted the job, I told him I had really, really, really big shoes to fill. And in typical Andy fashion he said, ‘Just be yourself and you’ll be fine.’ So I publically just want to thank Andy, because that really spoke to me about what this organization is all about.”
Other members of the Eagles’ front office echoed Kelly’s sentiments, saying that Reid still wants the best for the Eagles franchise he helmed for 14 seasons.
“We have such a close relationship over the years that the trust is all there,” said Chairman/CEO Jeffery Lurie. “It’s a very special rapport we have with Andy. He reached out to most of the top candidates to tell them what it’s like to work with myself, with (general manager) Howie (Roseman), with (president) Don (Smolenski), what the organization is all about, how obsessed with winning and doing it the right way.”
In the days that followed the end of Reid’s tenure in Philadelphia, Lurie said potential coaching candidates were eager to speak with Reid to find out just how the organization operates. And because of the history between Lurie and Reid, that process was a two-way street. Reid was able to help the Eagles determine which candidates would be best for the job.
“If I’m a head coaching candidate, the one person I really want to talk to is Andy Reid,” Lurie said. “Most of them did their due diligence and reached out to Andy. In that sense, it was an important part of the process that they would reach out to them. I have a close enough relationship with Andy where I can probably eliminate some candidates if Andy felt that they weren’t good enough in that sense. That’s how close we are. I know what he feels about Chip Kelly and it’s outstanding.”
In Kelly, the Eagles have a head coach they are confident can lead the team boldly into the future. And now, Kelly knows he’s entering a city and an organization that will support him as the team begins this next era of Eagles football.
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