The biggest lie in sports may have been the one about Andy Reid and Bill Belichick being mortal enemies. Turns out, the two legendary coaches are really good friends.
ESPN’s David Fleming published a larger-than-life profile on Reid that examines Big Red’s timeline from playing silly pranks with shot-puts as a child to mentoring a young quarterback named Patrick Mahomes.
It provides a rare glimpse into Reid’s personal life, something he has never been prone to share with those outside the football fraternity. In it, former coaches and teammates and friends are interviewed and share stories about a man who many feel should one day be festooned in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The snippet about his childhood friends dropping a shot-put into a gutter while traveling 40 mph and passing through a car door is the first gem. But the meat of the article describes Reid’s maniacal obsession to detail — in the meeting room and on the football field. He assigned assistant coaches books to read and quarterback progressions to watch. He was sold on Donovan McNabb for a long time — and no one was going to change his mind.
“Andy was more responsible for picking Donovan McNabb than anyone,” said former Eagles president Joe Banner. “If we had the first pick in that draft, Andy would have picked Donovan. You take the wrong QB there, or a running back, and the next decade of Eagles history would look completely different.”
Andy Reid Best Friends with Bill Belichick
Perhaps the best tidbit comes from his long-time athletic trainer Rick Burkholder as it relates to Reid’s relationship with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. Reid has gone 2-6 all-time against Belichick, including 0-2 in the playoffs and Super Bowl. The common assumption was they were sworn enemies but that’s not the case at all. They might even bounce ideas off each other.
“He’s really close with [Bill] Belichick. People in the football world think they’re enemies. They’re not,” said Burkholder. “They’re two brilliant leaders. They love to compete against each other, but they’re good friends. You think they share ideas? I think they do. They just have two different styles of leadership, but both work.”
Seeing the Lighter Side of Andy Reid
The entire ESPN article is fascinating and worth investing time to read. It really does peel back the onion on a quiet genius. Here are some of the best parts recited by the people that know him the best.
Eagles play-by-play announcer Merrill Reese told a story from the first live call-in show they did together in Philadelphia:
“We took phone calls at the first Andy Reid Show. We did it live at training camp, and a caller said, “Hi, Andy, I’m so-and-so from wherever. I figured out your problem: Your jockey shorts are on too tight.” That was the last time we ever took a live call.”
Brett Favre recited a tale from their days together in Green Bay and a rogue member of the chain crew:
“Andy is pacing up and down the sidelines with his headset on, and suddenly the cord catches and his head is yanked back hard. He looks to see who is on his cord and it’s the overweight guy. Andy goes, “Hey, get off the cord, you fat-ass!” And the guy looks right back at Andy, confused, and he yells back, “Who you calling a fat-ass?!”
Steve Mariucci recalled a story about the two of them standing outside the hallway in a motor lodge in Green Bay after a fire alarm drill:
“I look down the other way, and three doors down there’s this big giant redhead — it looked like a dang lion’s head — sticking out a door staring at me. I’m looking at him. He’s staring at me. The alarm’s still going off. He’s in his underwear too. And I go: “Reid?” And he goes: “Mariucci?” And we both go, “Oh! Hey, how ya doing!?” and come marching out, hugging in the hallway in our underwear.”
Eagles defensive end Vinny Curry remembered Reid as a coach who truly cared about his players:
“It didn’t matter if you were new to the team, that man knew your name, your family’s names, where you were from, everything. He would just call random guys up — undrafted guys — and ask them, “Hey, how’s Betty?” And guys would be like, “Oh s—, how did he know? Big Red just asked me how my mom is doing.”
Again, the article is a seriously good read. Take some time and give it a read in between TPS reports at work.
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