Andy Reid opted to take the high road from Philadelphia to Kansas City on Monday.
The former Eagles coach rode in the Chiefs’ private plane over the weekend before officially becoming their new coach. But he had nothing but positive things to say about his 14 seasons with Philadelphia during a 15-minute conference call today with the media that cover the Eagles.
“I have nothing but fond memories,” Reid said. “I loved my time there. I had 14 great years. I want the (Eagles) fans to know that I love Philadelphia. I haven’t sold my home there. And I wish nothing but the best for the Eagles. I think they’re in a better place now than when I took over, and I wish them nothing but good things in their future.”
Reid took over in 1999 and enjoyed a tremendous amount of success with the Eagles. He posted a 140-101-1 record including playoff games, won six NFC East titles, made five appearances in the NFC championship game and reached the Super Bowl in the 2004 season. But the Eagles still have not won a league championship since 1960.
Reid’s teams got worse in recent seasons after losing the conference championship game at Arizona in 2008. They lost in the first round of the playoffs in 2009 and 2010, finished 8-8 in 2011 and fell to 4-12 this season, which was the Eagles’ worst mark since going 3-13 in 1998 under coach Ray Rhodes.
“There’s nothing I wanted to do more than win a championship for the City of Philadelphia,” Reid said. “But we didn’t do it. I’m not going to sit here and tell you it wasn’t exciting to get to (NFC) championship games and the Super Bowl, but we didn’t get the championship.”
This season was fraught with frustration, controversy and disappointment.
Billed as a Super Bowl contender before it began, the Eagles got off to a 3-1 start before losing eight straight games. Injuries to key players such as wide receiver DeSean Jackson, tackle Jason Peters and quarterback Michael Vick hurt. Reid provided his share of controversy by firing defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, cutting defensive end Jason Babin, dismissing defensive line coach Jim Washburn and benching Vick after he recovered from a concussion.
After their final game, a 42-7 loss to the New York Giants on Dec. 30, several players such as running back LeSean McCoy, wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and Vick suggested that some of the players had lost their focus. That suggested that Reid may have lost his ability to motivate at the same level.
“There are going to be lot of things said and done,” Reid said. “That’s why I look at the big picture. Don’t hold (what was said after the final game) against those guys. They’re kids.
“Change can be good. Obviously I’ve had a change and so have the Eagles. And that can be a positive thing.”
Reid is taking over a Chiefs team that finished a league-worst 2-14 this season under Romeo Crennel just two years after winning the AFC West.
Like Reid, who lost his son Garrett to a heroin overdose at training camp last August, the Chiefs also had to deal with tragedy this season. On Dec. 1, linebacker Jovan Belcher fatally shot his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, and then killed himself in front of Crennel and then-general manager Scott Pioli at the team’s headquarters.
Crennel was fired last Monday, Pioli on Friday.
“It was a very hard year on all of us — my family, the fans, the organization — both on and off the field,” Hunt said Monday in quotes provided by the Chiefs. “I don’t want to say there’s any one moment when I said I have to do something about it, but clearly when you’re not successful in the NFL, it’s clear change is coming.
The Eagles are still looking for Reid’s successor.
They interviewed Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy on Sunday and are scheduled to meet with Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley this week. They already have talked to Atlanta special-teams coordinator Keith Armstrong and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.
The Eagles received permission to interview Cincinnati offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.
Reid wished the next Eagles coach good luck and asked the team’s fans to have patience.
“When you’re in some place for a long time, players unfortunately get a little older and you’ve got to replenish, but expectations remain the same,” Reid said. “Expectations (in Philadelphia) are high, but you’re going to take a little hit and build back up.
“The Eagles are going to do that. They’ve got some young guys in some crucial positions and the next guy is going to have a couple of years to build it back up. I hope the fans give him an opportunity.”
Reid will get a chance to face the Eagles’ new coach — and their fans — next season.
The Chiefs are among the teams the Eagles will play at Lincoln Financial Field in 2013. The season’s dates and times will be released in April.
A few hundred Eagles fans cheered Reid when he walked off the field after his last game at the Linc, a 27-20 loss to Washington on Dec. 23. They figure to give him a different greeting when he returns.
“The (Eagles) fans care and that’s all that ever mattered to me,” Reid said. “The fans there get it. They know about football and they let you know when you’re doing good and when you’re doing bad. I didn’t care if they chanted my name. They cared and that’s all you can ask for as a football coach.”
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