Calling 'Dr.' Reid; Coach Had Right Medicine for Eagles

Article excerpt

Byline: David Elfin, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid, who has guided his team to the NFL's best record the last five seasons and now to its first Super Bowl in 24 years, might well have spent his life operating in a hospital rather than on the sideline.

Reid hoped to follow his mother into medicine before Brigham Young coach LaVell Edwards convinced him to remain in football after his playing eligibility expired in 1981. Philadelphia's hard-to-please fans will be forever grateful.

The Eagles, without an NFL championship since 1960, sank to a 9-22-1 record in 1997 and 1998 under Ray Rhodes. Fortunately for all concerned in the land of cheesesteaks and boobirds, Reid came riding to the rescue.

Philadelphia owner Jeffrey Lurie and team president Joe Banner went against the grain for a remedy when they hired the obscure Reid, a seven-year Green Bay offensive assistant who had never even been a Division I coordinator, over established names like former Carolina Panthers coach Dom Capers, Jim Haslett and Chris Palmer.

"It was unconventional," Lurie conceded. "We talked with [coach] Mike Holmgren, [quarterback] Brett Favre and others who had been with the Packers. Andy understood that a winning team had to have people who could work well together. Andy has no ego. He's comfortable with himself. To him, it's all about building team community."

That's what Reid did despite a 2-7 start in 1999.

"I'd never heard of Andy, and I thought, 'It's going to get worse before it gets better,' " linebacker Ike Reese recalled. "Then his first training camp was really tough. But he weeded a lot of guys out of here. He said, 'Everybody starts with a clean slate. Everybody gets a chance to play. There are no free rides. You have to earn your way.' And midway through his first season, we started playing better."

Reid defied convention himself when he bypassed Texas running back Ricky Williams to take quarterback Donovan McNabb third overall in his first draft, then made the rookie his starter in Week 10.

The Eagles were a wild card the next two years before winning the first of their three straight NFC East titles. …