Andy Reid, now head coach of Kansas City, led the Eagles to five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl during his 14 years in Philadelphia. (USA Today Images)
I have to believe Eagles fans will be in their seats early on Thursday night awaiting the arrival of Andy Reid on the field for the first time since leaving Philly.
What kind of reaction will Big Red receive? He deserves a warm reception, and with the exception of a few vocal detractors, I believe Reid will be given the kind of greeting expected for someone who was a larger-than-life figure in the Eagles' organization for 14 years.
Everyone knows the last two years were dreadful, but nine trips to the playoffs and five NFC championship games are worthy of lofty recognition.
Reid has avoided attention this week as much as possible even with the local Kansas City media, handling only the required media obligations. When Reid has addressed the media, he has insisted that the focus is on the Eagles and the Chiefs and not his return.
History tells us that Reid’s new team should struggle on the field this week. The last three times a former Eagles coach played against the Birds with their new team, the Eagles won the game. Buddy Ryan, Rich Kotite and Dick Vermeil all lost in their returns to Veterans Stadium in the 90s.
Reid did have one telling comment this week when talking to reporters in Kansas City: “I enjoy coaching, number one. I enjoyed the time I had doing that in Philadelphia, but this time in my career, I’m excited to be doing what I’m doing and not doing the personnel.”
Not doing the personnel, a revealing look into a man who seldom lets his guard down. In Reid’s final years here, his personnel decisions were highly criticized and now we learn that Reid is excited to not be handling those decisions. The Eagles are now paying the price for poor drafting and Reid is the man most responsible for that decline.
Reid’s exit was abrupt and he never addressed the fans until his press conference in Kansas City. He did say goodbye to the Eagles' employees at the NovaCare Complex lunch room on the day of his firing.
So now, finally, on Thursday Reid will face 68,000 diehard Eagles fans in a script Hollywood must have written, with a 2-0 Chiefs team facing the much-talked about Eagles' offense, on a night Donovan McNabb’s number is retired and it is all played out on national TV.
Welcome back, Big Red. This is one game no one in Philly wants to miss.