The odds are about million to one that Andy Reid will coach his final home game with the Eagles on Sunday when they take on the Washington Redskins (“so you’re tellin’ me there’s a chance…”) and it will be interesting to see the reaction he gets from the not-so-friendly faithful who will fill Lincoln Financial Field.
This is, after all, the home of the most infamous boo-birds in all of sports, something the national media love to point out whenever possible. And Reid is easily the most disliked figure in the Philadelphia sports scene right now as he finishes up his worst season since he arrived in South Philly 14 years ago.
Toss in a couple hours of pregame tailgating to get those boo-birds primed for action and it could get ugly at the Linc on Sunday. And that would be a shame. It’s time for Reid to go and even he seems to understand that now. And even though he’s never been a fan or media favorite, even though he never did what he was brought here to do – win a Super Bowl – it would be nice if Andy Reid went out, well, nicely.
When deciding Reid’s legacy in Philadelphia the bottom line is naturally the won-loss column. And that’s been a mixed bag – Reid has won more regular season games and more playoff games than any coach in Eagles history, but recent history hasn’t been kind to Reid, which is why he’ll be changing geography pretty soon. He never won the big game and now he can’t even win the little ones and that is the main reason he’s so strongly disliked by so many.
And then there’s Andy Reid’s public face. I’ve been to about 90 percent of Reid’s press conferences and practices over the last 14 years and I can honestly say he’s never treated me disrespectfully or treated one of my questions disdainfully, no matter how stupid.
At the same time, Reid can be maddening to deal with him because he never tells the truth – which is different from lying. You know the drill by now: Every loss is his fault because he failed to put the players in position to make plays. Every mistake is his fault because he didn’t prepare well enough or motivate well enough.
The problem with that rehearsed speech – other than the fact that it’s boring – is that the fans know better and they always have. They knew early on that the Eagles needed some big-play receivers, even though Reid said they didn’t (until they finally did). The fans knew the Eagles needed another impact running back to complement and eventually replace Brian Westbrook, but Reid refused to draft one (until he finally did). And the fans knew the Eagles would never win a Super Bowl with Donovan McNabb at quarterback, but Reid adamantly refused to admit that (until he finally traded him).
That is why the majority of Eagles fans never warmed to Andy Reid despite his success – he insulted their intelligence. They knew it was night and he insisted it was day and nobody likes to be told they’re stupid.
Reid, of course, is not stupid and he knows his days with the Eagles are numbered and right now he can count those days on his fingers. But, of course, he would never let anybody outside of his family or staff know that, so his answer was predictable when he was asked this week if he had thought about the possibility that this might be his final home game as coach of the Eagles.
Reid’s response: “I haven’t even gone there — haven’t even gone there. I’m just concentrating on the Washington Redskins and keeping it at that.”
And then he was asked if the fans reaction to him – good or bad – would resonate with him.
Reid’s response: “I really haven’t thought about that. I’d like to tell you a different answer to that, but I haven’t really gone there.”
That could change, of course, on Sunday, especially if the game isn’t close (and Eagles games usually aren’t) and he has a little time to look around and reflect. And if Reid has any regrets about his final days with the Eagles, it won’t be that they ended, but that they ended badly.
Still, it would be nice if this divorce was an amicable one. It would be nice if people remember the good times, because there were a lot of them. It would be nice if the blue-collar Philadelphia fans, who are supposed to love effort, realize that nobody cared more or worked harder than the Eagles coach has over the last 14 years. And it would be nice if Andy Reid hears cheers instead of boos on Sunday evening when he leaves Lincoln Financial Field for the last time.