Sean McDermott, John Harbaugh reflect on Andy Reid coaching tree

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Nick Wojton
·3 min read
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Bills head coach Sean McDermott and the Ravens’ John Harbaugh don’t often see links to one other in recent memory, but they do exist and are deeply rooted.

The long and short of it is the Andy Reid “coaching tree.”

McDermott took the scenic route to the Bills via the Panthers but prior to that, he was an Eagles guy. Speaking of which, so was Harbaugh. That’s where they’re intertwined.

Both were hired by the current Chiefs coach when he was leading the Eagles. McDermott rose through the ranks there, up to defensive coordinator, while Harbaugh mostly was their special teams coordinator before jumping ship to his current role back in 2008.

As their current teams are set to faceoff against each other in Saturday’s AFC Divisional round matchup, both Harbaugh and McDermott reflected upon their pasts together.

“It’s remarkable,” Harbaugh said via conference call, reflecting upon that time with the Eagles. “I guess I realized that when it was pointed out to me in practice to me today. You kind of take a moment and think about it, it’s pretty amazing. I think it speaks really highly of Andy. The kind of coach that he is. We all learned so much from him.

“Just the guys that we had, we had an amazing group of guys, I guess Andy is a good scout for coaches, too. Not just good… smart, tough, great guys… guys like Sean and Leslie (Frazier) and Dave Culley and that’s here and others. The idea, they’re just good people. I look back on those years with those guys… just a bunch of great people who are just tremendous friends to this day. I don’t know how to explain it but it’s pretty amazing.”

Displaying how close they really are, Harbaugh also took a little jab at McDermott, too.

“He married way out of his league, I know that about him. Really big plus for him,” Harbaugh joked.

But on a more serious note, Harbaugh mentioned how he was first impressed with McDermott’s personality as a coach. He was built for it, he said.

“Sean was like, when he came in there, was really just starting out… and I think two things. First of all just a high character, high quality person. A very hard worker, very disciplined and very hard worker. Wrestler, played football of course at William and Mary but also a wrestler, really tough, mentally tough kind of a person and really smart. Really always wanted to learn, always asking questions always listening. Doing everything he could to improve,” Harbaugh said.

McDermott appreciated the cheek that Harbaugh gave him, and gave the compliment right back as he said Harbaugh’s family ties to football always stood out to him.

“You could always tell he had great leadership quality. He comes from a football family and you could tell he had football intelligence that usually comes with growing up around the game,” McDermott said. “A lot of respect for coach Harbaugh.”

And as if this blast from the past wasn’t enough, it could be a student vs. teacher type of AFC Championship in 2021. Regardless of winner between the Bills and Ravens, we’ll have someone connected to Reid playing in that game… but the man himself might as well. His Chiefs face the Browns for a spot in that same game on Sunday.

The story is just writing itself already.

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