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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended January 05, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 06Jan01

By Kent Larsen

No Matter What the Score, Reid Wins

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA -- Should the Philadelphia Eagles win Sunday over the New York Giants, who have beaten them twice already this year, it may be something of a miracle. But Philadelphia fans won't be that surprised. Coach Andy Reid has given them at least one miracle already -- the Eagles made the playoffs.

When Reid first arrived in Philadelphia, he was greeted with boos from the fans, instead of cheers. While his predecessor was clearly not performing, he had won the fans with a 1996 playoff appearance. But after a dismal 5-11 performance in 1999, Reid has won the fans over with an 11-5 record this season. And given the circumstances, most of the credit belongs to Reid.

Indeed, New York Times reporter Mike Freeman calls Reid a "stocky magician who knows how to do more with less than almost any other coach in the National Football League." When the season started, he cautioned fans not to expect too much, and forecast a basically even record for the year. And that record would have been respectable, given the team's lack of either a top running back or wide receiver and the presence of an inexperienced sophomore quarterback, Donovan McNabb.

But with McNabb, Reid has worked wonders. Reid helped McNabb beat the kinks out of his throwing, and the smart and athletic McNabb has performed well. And Reid has also connected with the rest of the team, helping them gel into a close-knit team that is rare, even in professional sports. "It's more than just a job now," says linebacker Ike Reese. "It's a family. I want to play hard for the guy who's lined up next to me ... It's all those things tied to each other when you have a deep feeling for your peers, your teammates. It takes a lot to get that feeling, and we've got it there. It's unbelievable. And whether we go out here and win Sunday or lose Sunday, nobody can ever take away the feeling we've had for each other this whole season and what we have done this season."

"I could sit here and blow smoke and say these are all cliches, but they're not," kicker David Akers said. "I've never seen something like this. I've played on enough teams. I've played the game for 12 years, played sports since I was 5 years of age. I've never seen anything like this. And apparently it doesn't happen that often because I'm hearing other guys that are older than me that are telling me the same thing. I think that's really neat."

Faced with the circumstances, Reid become very creative. The Eagle's first play of the season was a shock -- an on-side kick against the traditional powerhouse Dallas Cowboys. The play put the Cowboys off-balance, and the Eagles went on to win the game. Reid pulled similar stunts along the way: fake field goals, quarterbacks lined up at wide receiver and wide receivers throwing passes. He even had the center catch a pass.

Surprisingly, most of the Eagles are not superstars. They include a wide receiver who helped his parents beat drugs, a middle linebacker who developed his strength by chopping wood, a running back who was a bartender a year ago, a tight end who is a devout Mormon, a fullback who once lived in a homeless shelter.

Tight end Chad Lewis, the Mormon, is a good case in point. A returned missionary who served in Taiwan, Lewis walked on at BYU, earning his way into a 22-game college career. But his pro career was a washout before this season. Drafted by the Eagles in 1997, he survived only one season before he was released. He managed to play the latter part of the 1998 season with the Rams, only to be dumped again in 1999. Even Reid considered him a stopgap player when he started training camp with the Eagles in 2000.

But Lewis has exploded this season, snagging 69 receptions, more than any other tight end in the conference. Against Cleveland, Lewis picked up five receptions for 100 yards, making him the first Eagles tight end to break the 100 yard mark in 11 years. While Lewis benefited from the season-ending injury to star running back Duce Staley, the performance still won him a spot in the Pro Bowl, and a $6 million contract extension.

Now, both Lewis and Reid face the Giants on Sunday. Philadelphia fans will hold their breath hoping for a miracle. But while Reid no doubt wants to win badly, he has already won. He's made a strong case for NFL coach of the year and won the cheers of Philadelphia fans.


They're Birds of a feather
Philadelphia PA Inquirer 31Dec00 S2
By Jerry Brewer: Inquirer Staff Writer
Close bonds have kept the Eagles aloft in a remarkable turnaround.

Reid has Eagles flying higher
MSNBC 24Dec00 S2
By Anthony Gargano

Andy Reid, the New King of Philadelphia
New York Times 28Dec00 S2
By Mike Freeman

Sports: Call them born-again Eagles
St Petersburg FL Times 31Dec00 S2
The careers of several players have been rejuvenated under coach Andy Reid.

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Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information