How will Reid be received in possible last home game?
December 18, 2012, 11:00 am
While growing up in Cincinnati, Brent Celek admired two NFL coaches who managed to sustain the kind of long-term dominance and stability in one city that his hometown Bengals never could.
One of them was Bill Cowher, the fiery iron-chinned stalwart who took the Steelers to 10 playoff appearances before finally winning the Super Bowl in his 14th season.
The other was steady and staid Andy Reid, who built the Eagles into a league powerhouse from 1999 through the mid-2000s, the guy who ultimately selected Celek in the fifth round of the 2005 draft and groomed into one of the league’s better tight ends.
“I mean, coming from Cincinnati, the Eagles were a powerhouse year in and year out,” Celek said. “You guys didn’t win a Super Bowl back then but you were going to NFC Championship after NFC Championship and then the Super Bowl. I looked at the Eagles like they were one of the top two, top three teams in the league year in and year out.”
With just two games to go in this train wreck of a season that almost certainly will end with the firing of the NFL’s longest-tenured head coach, the intrigue of Sunday’s game against the Redskins at the Linc centers less on the final score and more on the home crowd’s reaction to what will very likely be Reid’s final home game.
Reid, the franchise’s all-time leader in both regular-season and playoff wins, will coach his 112th career home game Sunday. No other active NFL coach has a longer tenure with one team.
The countdown to his ouster began in August, when team owner Jeffrey Lurie strongly indicated that an 8-8 record or anything less than substantial improvement from last year’s .500 mark would guarantee that Reid wouldn’t be around for season No. 15, which still remains on the coach’s contract.
By mid-November, as the Eagles were in the midst of their eight-game losing streak -- the longest ever under Reid -- it became clear that the Eagles weren’t going to be any better from 2012. Actually, they would be much worse.
It’s no secret that Reid has never felt the coziest embrace from a city that felt the sting of a 3-13 team before he took over, won 11 games and went two rounds deep into the playoffs in just his second season. But Celek hopes that fans remember the total picture -- which includes five NFC Championship games, a Super Bowl appearance and nine playoff trips -- if and when they decide to leave the head coach with their own send-off Sunday.
“There’s times where you’re going to have ups and downs in your career or with seasons,” he said. “I just hope he gets the respect that he deserves, for what he did for the organization, what he did for this city. I think it’s huge. And for an outsider looking in from another city, it’s gargantuan. People would love to have a coach like that.”
To be fair, Celek was asked to comment on purely speculative scenarios. It’s entirely possible that the apathy present in the past few home games spills into the season home finale. There is also the miniscule chance that the owner changes his mind and brings Reid back. Lurie hasn’t made any declarative statements this season about Reid’s job status.
Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin felt uncomfortable discussing the topic until “a decision is actually made, regardless.”
“He’s had a lot of great teams. Unfortunately, we’ve struggled this year,” Maclin said. “I understand why the season was hard to watch from a fan viewpoint. It’s been frustrating for us, been frustrating for them. It’s been frustrating for everybody. I’m not going to sit up here and say I’m going to feel some type of way about it because I don’t know. I’ve never been in that situation before so I don’t know.
“I guess we’ll kinda just see how things go. As far as my personal response or reaction to it, I won’t do anything until the decision is actually made upstairs.”
It’s naive to think the city’s loud, passionate and very vocal fan base will suddenly exercise the same calculated restraint and patience that Maclin and some of his teammates have shown about discussing their coach’s future.
From a public standpoint, the axe crashed down on Reid so long ago that sports-talk stations and media outlets have spent weeks speculating on who will be the next hot-shot NFL assistant (Ray Horton?) or collegiate program builder (Chip Kelly?) to replace Reid in 2013.
There was even a report earlier last month that general manager Howie Roseman had recently met with Kelly. (Imagine that, an NFL executive in charge of evaluating college prospects was actually spotted having conversations with the coach of a national college powerhouse!)
The question is less about whether Reid will receive a farewell from the home crowd after Sunday’s game and more about the tenor of the reception.
Outsiders might point to some unflattering moments in Philadelphia fan history -- think Santa Claus and car batteries -- to suggest that Reid skip the postgame handshake and quickly head for the exit. This sentiment would dismiss some of the more recent showcases of compassion from a fan base that usually doesn’t fulfill its national stereotype.
Last year, fans warmly welcomed back quarterback Donovan McNabb upon his return to the Linc after being dealt to the rival Redskins the previous offseason. McNabb, inarguably the greatest and most successful quarterback in team history, also felt the fans’ cold shoulder near the end of his 11-year career as his seasons repeatedly fell short of Super Bowl expectations.
In August, Reid was showered with chants of “Andy! ... Andy! ...” during the preseason opener against the Steelers, just a few days after Reid had buried his eldest son, Garrett, who had died of a heroin overdose in his dorm room at training camp.
Third-year defensive end Brandon Graham expects nothing less than a hometown salute worthy of someone who stayed committed to the end, especially after a personal tragedy and even as the walls caved around him.
“It should be. Whoever ain’t doing it, I feel bad,” Graham added. “It’s like, dang, you can’t give the man that much respect? Some type of sympathy? He’s not a bad guy. He’s a great guy. He just had a bad time here these last couple of years.”
E-mail Geoff Mosher at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 reply to this topic
Posted 18 December 2012 - 12:04 PM
Posted 18 December 2012 - 01:46 PM
The only thing the majority of the Eagle fan base cares about, is what you haven't accomplished. Not what you did accomplish.