Philadelphia should be happy today. It finally found a way to dump Andy Reid. For 14 years the city's football fans have stomped, punched and kicked the Eagles' coach, firing him in parking lot tailgates, on the radio and in the stands. And good ol' Stand Up Andy took their rage, staring implacably across the top of his playlist, seemingly oblivious to the fact his team's fans never found a way to love him.
Stand Up Andy didn't stalk the sideline or throw his cap. He never much screamed. He never ripped off his headphones. He was always a stoic bear of a man, hiding behind an enormous mustache. Philadelphia never appeared to appreciate that. It seemed to long for a man who showed passion. You almost get the sense the fans would have loved Mike Ditka or Jerry Glanville or some other recycled side show from a long lost time rather than endure another Reid news conference that failed to deliver one sound bite upon which to munch.
Why else could they not accept Stand Up Andy? Because if there's one thing Stand Up Andy did consistently it was win. Aside from the disaster of this fall and a post-Super Bowl blemish in 2005, his record reads like a dream to most football fans. Eight times his teams have won 10 or more games. Three times they won 12 or more. They won the NFC East in seven of his 14 years.
Yet it was never enough. Never big enough. Philadelphia always felt it was being cheated by Stand Up Andy – that he was leaving behind victories a replacement coach would surely have collected.
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But now Philadelphia doesn't have to worry. Andy Reid is gone and his replacement won't stay another 14 years. The truth is, Stand Up Andy is left over from an era when coaches ruled for years. Ours is a disposable world now. Head coaches don't last an eternity any more. The idea of a man staying on one sideline for as long as a decade is quaint in this time of win now or die.
Bill Belichick will stay as long as he wants in New England. Five Super Bowl appearances with three titles tends to buy stability. Marvin Lewis has found eternal life in Cincinnati. Patriots owner Robert Kraft is not a foolish man, he knows he can't improve on what he has and Cincinnati's Mike Brown is an outlier, determined to run his team a different way.
Most of the lifetime passes are gone. Mike Shanahan lost his in Denver a few years back when Pat Bowlen seemed to decide he had given away too much control. Bill Cowher gave up his empire in Pittsburgh a season after winning the Super Bowl in 2006. And now Reid is gone because the run had lasted long enough.
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Owners are impatient men these days. They need instant results. A coach who doesn't have a winning season in one of his first two years is immediately rumored to be gone. No time to wait for a plan. Quarterbacks, once seen as projects who take seasons to develop, are now thrown into the fire as rookies. Better to find out right away, the owners and team executives say. More and more the first-year coach and first-year quarterback promise to burn together in a league that doesn't allow franchises to build anymore.
On Monday seven head coaches and five general managers were fired. Another six coaches could easily have lost their jobs. The NFL of longtime head coaches is becoming like the NBA, where the names turn so fast it's hard to catch up.
Blame talk radio. Blame the Internet. Blame instant analysis polls. Blame a world in which the pressure on the owners is too intense to wait.
The coaching lifespan in professional football is shrinking. And the next generation of newly anointed successors is well aware how tentative their coaching lives will be.
It is into this fire that Andy Reid wants to step again.
Hopefully the next place will understand him. Hopefully it will look at the record and not crave a man who kicks over water buckets and howls profanities through the games. Hopefully the next place will cherish wins over style.
Because aside from Belichick and maybe Lewis, nobody is staying anyplace for much more than five years. Let alone 14.
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