The longest-tenured head coach in the NFL is preparing to coach what is expected to be his final home game Sunday after a professionally disappointing and personally devastating season.
Andy Reid will take the field, as he has for 111 home games and almost 14 seasons in Philadelphia, where this season has been painful from the start. The Eagles were put on notice early by owner Jeffrey Lurie: win or there’ll be changes after an 8-8 2011 season and now they’re 4-10, essentially packing in the season when they packed away Halloween decorations.
But nothing much has changed for Reid, who continues to go about preparing for an NFC East game that means everything to the Washington Redskins and nothing to his team. He may well be making his farewell to the Linc fans, but he wasn’t tipping his hand about his feelings.
“I really haven’t thought about it,” he told reporters (via Jack McCaffrey of the Delaware County Times). “I’d like to tell you a different answer, but I haven’t really gone there.”
Reid is the Eagles’ all-time leader in regular-season and playoff victories and took the Eagles into the playoff nine times, advancing to five NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl, but those are dimming memories for Philly fans. He was on the clock in August, when Lurie put him on notice. His son, Garrett, died of an accidental heroin overdose at the team’s Lehigh training camp and, earlier this week, it was reported that steroids were found in the room in which Garrett Reid died. Reid returned quickly after burying his son, but injuries and malaise doomed the team.
“I just hope he gets the respect that he deserves [Sunday], for what he did for the organization, what he did for this city,” tight end Brent Celek told CSN Philly. “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.”
With a high number of NFL head-coaching jobs expected to open up starting Dec. 31, Reid most likely could coach again immediately, if that is his choice. Right now, though, the Eagles say they’re focused on trying to win their last two games.
“Hey, I don’t know about the sendoff or not,” defensive end Trent Cole said. “I don’t know if they say he is going or not. I don’t know what you’ve heard, but I hope he is here. But … we are out to win. That’s what it is. We have the faith in Coach Reid that he is going to put us in a position to go out there and win. And that’s pretty much it.”
Defensive end Brandon Graham said he expects some show of appreciation from Philly’s often fickle fans, given the success Reid has brought to the team in the past and this demanding and difficult season.
“Whoever ain’t doing it, I feel bad,” Graham said when asked if there should be some sort of tribute from fans. “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.”