The Super Bowl often has a sentimental favorite, a player that everyone in the stadium is pulling for. Think John Elway in the final two Super Bowls of his career, or the fans chanting “Bra-dy! Bra-dy!” against the Falcons.
Last weekend’s Super Bowl had a sentimental favorite, as well, but it wasn’t a player. This time, the chants rang down, “An-dy! An-dy!” as Chiefs fans — and Eagles fans, and pretty much anyone in America not rooting for the 49ers — saluted Andy Reid for finally winning his first championship.
“For a coach’s name to be chanted out is highly unusual. I’ve never seen that at a Super Bowl,” said longtime agent Bob LaMonte, who has represented Reid for 25 years. “He probably had 75 percent of America rooting for him.”
LaMonte probably isn’t far off. The Eagles, LeBron James, Russell Wilson, Terrell Owens, Mike Trout, Karl-Anthony Towns, WIP radio in Philadelphia — the joy for Reid was unbridled and overwhelming.
“I’m so happy for our players, coaches, and fans, and especially Andy Reid. Nobody deserves this trophy more than Andy Reid,” Chiefs owner Clark Hunt said.
Former Eagles president Joe Banner took time out of his New Zealand vacation to trade several texts with Reid this past week, and call this reporter to talk about Reid.
“Anything to talk about Andy,” Banner said. “I know how bad he wanted this and how hard he worked and how much he deserved it. It was just exhilarating to see.”
Reid’s first Super Bowl victory was certainly a long time coming. Reid just finished his 21st season as a head coach, and his 207 regular-season wins (seventh-most all time) gave him the ignominious title of “Most Coaching Wins Without Winning a Super Bowl.” Reid came close several times with the Eagles, only to fall short — three straight NFC Championship game losses, a 1-4 record overall in that game, and a 3-point loss to the Patriots in the Super Bowl following the 2004 season. Reid got close again last year with the Chiefs, but Dee Ford lined up six inches offside, costing his team in the AFC Championship game against the Patriots.
Reid’s legacy, fair or not, centered around his inability to win the Big One, and his questionable clock management.
“He’s human, so I’m sure it bothered him, but he’s one of the least affected people I’ve ever met by what other people think,” said Banner, who hired Reid with the Eagles in 1999 and worked with him for 14 years. “He’s very hard on himself and wanted very badly to win a Super Bowl. So there was tremendous pressure and hurt, but I don’t think it was the way other people were judging him.”
Reid no longer has to worry about the pressure or the hurt.
“I think that was our goal this whole week — to win this game for Coach Reid,” safety Tyrann Mathieu said.
“He’s one of the greatest coaches of all time,” Patrick Mahomes added. “I don’t think he needed the Lombardi Trophy to prove that. But just to do that, it puts all doubt aside, and he’s going to be listed as one of the all-time great coaches.”
But the majority of the football world wasn’t rooting for Reid just because he hadn’t won before. Reid has made a lot of friends and few enemies in the NFL because of his optimistic nature, forgiving heart, and willingness to help others. Reid was one of the few willing to give Michael Vick a second chance, and helped turn him into a productive quarterback and person. Reid also has helped Matt Nagy, Doug Pederson, Ron Rivera, Sean McDermott, Brad Childress, Marty Mornhinweg, and Steve Spagnuolo land NFL head-coaching jobs.
“He’s just a principled, good person,” Banner said of Reid. “He’s got a huge heart, he’s as honest as they come, as real as you can be.”
The beauty of Reid’s win was that it was a coaching masterpiece. Reid pushed every right button last Sunday against the 49ers: Converting two fourth-and-1 opportunities in the first half; borrowing a play from the 1948 Rose Bowl to convert one of the fourth downs deep in the red zone, leading to a touchdown; calling the perfect play on third and 15 in the fourth quarter, resulting in a 44-yard catch for Tyreek Hill.
“One of the reasons we hired Andy is he is fearlessly aggressive,” Banner said. “And people who are fearlessly aggressive know that sometimes it’s going to blow up in their face, but they have a fundamental belief that over time it will contribute to their success. So to see him get to the biggest game, and have no fear of being aggressive, is just who he is.”
This was only Reid’s second trip to the Super Bowl in his 21 seasons as a head coach — he won with the 1996 Packers as an assistant — and he surely had some nerves during the week. But LaMonte, who stayed in the Chiefs’ hotel all week and attended practices, certainly didn’t see it in Reid or the players.
“He was extraordinarily calm, and I think it was reflective of his team,” LaMonte said. “I didn’t see a bad practice and I never saw Mahomes throw a ball that hit the ground. He didn’t miss a pass in five days. You always get a real vibe, and usually it boils down to the head coach and the quarterback. Very rarely is that wrong.”
The Super Bowl win should cement Reid as a Hall of Famer. But Reid, 61, doesn’t seem interested in slowing down. Winning a Super Bowl and having Mahomes, only 24, invigorates Reid.
“He’ll probably coach with this quarterback for at least five more years,” LaMonte said.
“And we’re probably going to see him holding another trophy going forward,” Banner added.
WRITTEN IN THE STARS
Mahomes dealcould be tricky
A few leftover post-Super Bowl thoughts:
■ Patrick Mahomes is entering the last year of his contract, and obviously the Chiefs want to lock him up long term. But the timing of it presents a tricky dilemma for the front office.
Mahomes is incredibly affordable the next two years — under contract next season for a $2.7 million salary and $5.2 million cap hit, and then the Chiefs can trigger his fifth-year option for 2021, which is expected to be around $24 million.
Of course the Chiefs want to take care of Mahomes and lock him up, but having an extremely cheap star quarterback has been one of their big advantages over the rest of the NFL the past two seasons, and has allowed them to load up on high-priced veterans, similar to when the Seahawks went to two Super Bowls on Russell Wilson’s rookie contract.
If the Chiefs sign Mahomes to a massive new deal, potentially worth $40 million per year, they may not be able to keep all of their veteran players. It has to be tempting to let Mahomes play out his contract another year. They could potentially keep the team together, and even add pieces next season, at his cheap numbers.
Then again, Mahomes’s price tag keeps going up. And the Chiefs may be able to get him at a better long-term value now than if they wait a year or two. The fact that he’s under contract for two more years at below-market rates gives them some leverage in a new deal.
■ Jimmy Garoppolo did not have a fun week following his two-interception performance in the Super Bowl loss.
“It sucked. I wouldn’t want to put anyone in my head that Monday morning going through all that stuff,” he said Wednesday. “But it is what it is, and at some point you have to be a man, accept it for what it is, move on, and start getting ready for next year.”
But other than George Kittle, who is entering the final year of his deal and certainly wants a pay raise from $735,000, the 49ers have their core under contract and likely will bring most of the team back for 2020. They’ll need to, because the Niners have the 31st draft pick, then don’t pick again until the 10th pick of the fifth round (they traded their second-rounder for Dee Ford, and their third- and fourth-rounders for Emmanuel Sanders).
“It’ll be hard to get back here, but looking around the room, looking at all the guys, we have the pieces for it,” Garoppolo said. “The age of most of these guys, we’re a pretty young team, in general. Just a lot of encouraging things.”
■ Poor Wes Welker, now 0-4 in Super Bowls — two losses with the Patriots, one with the Broncos, and now one with the 49ers as their receivers coach. Welker joins an 0-4 club that includes Jim Kelly, and former coaches Bud Grant, Marv Levy, and Dan Reeves. The record for most Super Bowl losses by a player is five, shared by Cornelius Bennett, Glenn Parker, and Gale Gilbert, who each lost another Super Bowl after playing on the early-’90s Bills teams that lost four.
■ One of my favorite stories from Super Bowl week was shared by 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan. He relayed that after the Broncos beat the Patriots in a 2005 divisional-round game in Denver, Bill Belichick came over to see Shanahan’s father, longtime coach Mike Shanahan, just to chat in his office, even with the Patriots’ plane waiting to get back to New England.
“I didn’t talk to him. I got kicked out, I had to sit and wait,” said Kyle Shanahan, who was 25 at the time. “But I remember my dad saying how cool that was, that Bill would come over after they lost and just talked ball with him.”
Belichick has remained fond of the Shanahan family. Belichick reached out to Kyle, Atlanta’s offensive coordinator at the time, shortly after the Patriots beat the Falcons in the Super Bowl. Belichick then spent time with Shanahan at the Combine as he began his first season as the 49ers’ head coach, and eight months later, Belichick traded him Garoppolo.
“It was real cool how Bill reached out to me after the Super Bowl just to talk, and I was able to spend a little time with him at the Combine, which I was very appreciative of,” Shanahan said. “Any time that guy talks, everyone in the world listens. It’s not like we talk a ton or anything, but he’s a very humble guy who likes to help people.”
Predicting thefuture difficult
It’s always a gamble when trading for future draft picks. Sometimes they come in higher than expected, sometimes much lower.
The Colts certainly cashed in on a trade last year with Washington. In last year’s draft, the Colts traded the 26th pick to the Redskins for the 46th pick and a 2020 second-rounder. Washington finished 3-13, and that pick is No. 34 overall, basically the same as a late first-rounder.
The Raiders also came out better than expected in a pick they acquired from the Bears in the Khalil Mack trade. The Bears surely expected to make the playoffs and have a draft pick in the low 20s or 30s when the trade was made. Instead, the Bears finished 8-8, and the Raiders ended up with the 19th pick this year (in addition to their own at No. 12).
On the other end are the Dolphins, who have three first-round picks after trading Minkah Fitzpatrick to the Steelers and Laremy Tunsil to the Texans. In a perfect world, the Dolphins would have the No. 1 pick (their own), a top-10 pick from the Steelers, and one in the teens from the Texans. But the Dolphins won a few more games than expected, the Steelers won far more than anyone expected after Ben Roethlisberger went down, and the Texans made the second round of the playoffs, leaving the Dolphins with Nos. 5, 18, and 26. It’s still a great haul, but it’s about as bad as it could have been. And if they want to ensure they get Tua Tagovailoa, they may have to package two picks to trade up.
The 49ers’ success also hurt the Broncos and Chiefs. The Broncos got third- and fourth-round picks for trading Sanders, but those picks will now be at the end of each round. And the Chiefs got a second-round pick for trading Ford last spring, but considering the 49ers were 4-12 last season, the Chiefs probably expected the pick to be higher than 63rd overall.
The 49ers have a unique structure on their offensive coaching staff, with no true offensive coordinator. Instead, head coach Shanahan calls the plays, but Mike LaFleur is the pass game coordinator and Mike McDaniel the run game coordinator. And this seems to be catching on. The Eagles announced this past week that they will have a similar structure, with head coach Doug Pederson calling the plays, Press Taylor as pass game coordinator, and Jeff Stoutland the run game coordinator. The Patriots had a similar structure this past season on defense: Bill Belichick running the show, but Jerod Mayo and Steve Belichick serving as de facto coordinators. And Titans coach Mike Vrabel is going without a true defensive coordinator next season following Dean Pees’s retirement . . . I’d bet on the NFL and NFL Players Association ultimately agreeing on a 17-game regular-season schedule in the next collective bargaining agreement, along with one fewer preseason game and one extra postseason game. Some players may complain about an extra game, but ultimately it would mean more money for everyone — owners, players, and TV networks. But I also wouldn’t bet on it being instituted for the 2020 season. I reported in November that the NFL doesn’t have a solid plan for what a 17-game schedule would look like. And ESPN reported on Friday that owners are really bargaining to have the ability to increase the schedule to 17 games at some point by the 2023 season . . . Per stats kept by @ACLrecoveryCLUB, the number of ACL tears was down significantly in 2019 — just 34 across the NFL (including offseason and training camp), down from 53 in 2018 and an average of 52 per year from 2013-18. The Patriots were one of eight teams not to have an ACL tear, the only time they have had such fortune in the last seven seasons . . . The Combine starts in 2½ weeks and is coming to prime time for the first time. NFL Network coverage will run from 4-11 p.m. on Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 27-29 — quarterbacks go on Thursday — and 2-7 p.m. on Sunday, March 1.