The Philadelphia Eagles have a lot of people on the hot seat this season. Yet Eagles fans like myself know that Andy Reid has the hottest seat of all, as Jeffrey Lurie reminded everyone on Aug. 30. This could be the last go around for Reid as a Philadelphia coach - which makes it fitting that he starts it off on Sept. 9 against his old mentor's team.
Before Reid joined the Eagles about a lifetime ago, he was best known as being one of Mike Holmgren's disciples in Green Bay. Now his 14'th and perhaps final season as a Philadelphia head coach begins against Holmgren's new team - even though he put the Cleveland Browns together as their president and not as their coach.
Since Reid and Holmgren split in 1998, they have gone in vastly different directions. Reid has stayed with the Eagles for close to 15 years, while Holmgren has been a bit more active. He spent almost a decade of his own coaching the Seattle Seahawks and making them NFC champions in 2005-06, but he couldn't hang on as long as Reid has in Philadelphia.
Now Holmgren isn't even on the sidelines anymore, as he has headed to the front office as president of the Browns. Of course, with his history and with the Browns' failed head coaching hires, there will always be suspicion that Holmgren will coach Cleveland himself someday. But for the moment, he is still trusting Pat Shurmur despite his 4-12 rookie year in 2011.
While Holmgren and Reid have taken different routes since they stopped working together, the results have still been the same. For all of their efforts, both coaches have only been to one Super Bowl each, and lost in back-to-back years in 2005 and 2006. They are still looking for the championship they won with the Packers in 1996-97, although only one of them looks to have a real shot in 2012.
Yet that does come with an asterisk, since this could be Reid's last chance with the Eagles. Holmgren's goals are a little less modest, since he only needs to get the Browns six or seven wins, and he isn't on as much of a hot seat as a president. In those ways, he may have a much easier season than Reid, despite the likelihood that his team will lose a lot more.
While Reid and Holmgren won't go head to head themselves in the season opener, it will still be fitting to see them linked together again in some way. If Reid actually starts a long awaited Super Bowl winning campaign by rolling over his mentor's Browns, it will make even more sense. And if he starts the campaign that finally gets him fired by losing to Holmgren's Browns, this would make tragic sense as well.
In many ways, the pupil has surpassed the mentor over the last 15 years - except in one major category. It didn't take 14 years for Holmgren to lead a Super Bowl champion, after all. But Reid and the Eagles hope to finally match him now, and make him and the Browns an opening footnote in that quest.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident who has followed the Eagles since he was eight years old.
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