PHILADELPHIA - The Eagles came away from their initial meeting with Chip Kelly earlier this month convinced that he would be the perfect choice to be their new head coach.
They just didn't know if Kelly was ready to leave the University of Oregon.
"It was obvious to us that if he was going to come to the NFL, it was going to be with the Eagles," Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said Thursday. "It was obvious that he would be a great fit. But we knew that he was torn."
Kelly called at 9 a.m. Wednesday to tell the Eagles he was ready to come to the NFL. A few hours later, he signed a five-year contract to become the 21st head coach in franchise history.
This will be his first job in the NFL. The 49-year-old has no official experience as an NFL assistant or offensive coordinator. He spent the previous six seasons at the University of Oregon after a 13-year stint at New Hampshire.
"Football is football," Kelly said. "The NFL is football at the highest level, but it's still 11 on 11. I understand the standard of excellence this organization stands for and I'm excited to get started."
Kelly said he also understands the Eagles' fan base, a group that hasn't been able to celebrate a league championship since 1960.
"When I was at New Hampshire, I recruited everywhere from South Jersey to Harrisburg (Pa.), so I know what the area is like," he said. "I know that the second-most important bowl in Philadelphia besides the Super Bowl is the 'Wing Bowl,' though I'm not going to participate.
"It was going to take something very special for me to leave Oregon and this is it. I'm very excited to be an Eagle."