The remarkable (and unlikely) career of Chiefs head coach Andy Reid

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has been coaching for 25 years now. Given his career arc, that is nothing short of remarkable.
Super Bowl LVIII - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs
Super Bowl LVIII - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs / Michael Owens/GettyImages

The career arc of Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has been nothing short of incredible. With 25 years of head coaching experience under his belt, and three Super Bowl rings on his fingers, Big Red is now within striking distance of some all-time great coaching records and lists. The journey has been nothing short of amazing.

Reid first became in an NFL head coach in 1999. He was hired by the Philadelphia Eagles after nearly a decade as an offensive assistant with the Green Bay Packers. After only posting five wins in his first season with Philly, Reid then rattled off five straight seasons with 10-plus wins.

Those successful seasons culminated with two NFC championship appearances and a Super Bowl appearance that Reid ultimately lost to the New England Patriots. That is where I think things started to get interesting.

It was clear at that point in his career that Andy Reid was a good head coach. Plenty of teams would love to win 11, 12, or 13 games in a season. Reid gave the Eagles that for years. In fact, the only team that seemed to be his equal in terms of pure wins, consistently, was the New England Patriots.

But pure wins only get you so far without a Super Bowl ring, and that was the one thing that Reid didn't have. Despite this, the Eagles kept him as head coach for over a decade. How often would that happen today?

Most coaches barely get one season to get a team into contention. In fact, the growing and troubling trend is to fire first-year coaches before they can even become second-year coaches. That's what makes Reid's tenure in Philadelphia so remarkable. He lasted that long without winning a Super Bowl.

The coach before him who faced a similar fate was former NFL head coach Marty Schottenheimer. Offensive genius. Won a lot of games. Never could secure the Lombardi. Today, a similar trend seems to be playing out for San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan.

Even for these great head coaches, the bill eventually comes due. "Get us over the hill, or we'll find someone who will." And that was true for Reid when the Eagles bottomed out in 2012. Not only was it a hard football year for Big Red, but it was also mired with personal tragedy that surely didn't help.

Two pivotal events happened after the Eagles fired Reid. The first was that Reid chose not to take a season off—nobody would have blamed him if he had. He had recently lost his son, and career wise, he couldn't get much lower than what had just unfolded in Philly. But Reid persevered.

The other was Kansas City Chiefs owner Clark Hunt personally went hunting for Reid and convinced him to come to Kansas City. For all of the flack Hunt gets, this was a personally ambitious moment that I don't think he gets enough credit for it. Not many owners would have done what he did.

It wasn't just that Clark wanted Reid. It's that Hunt wanted Reid after the coach had just spent over a decade proving unable to win a Championship. It was risky, but the NFL loves retreads. And so a new chapter began.

And it began great. The Chiefs went from dead last in the league to double digit wins and almost winning a playoff game for the first time in years. This quickly became the new norm. But that also became the problem. Lots of regular season wins. Few playoff wins.

Again, how many head coaches, no matter how great they are, get to coach for nearly 20 seasons without winning a Super Bowl? Not many. And for Andy Reid, he came dangerously close to being the next one, especially in 2015.

Many forget that the Chiefs started that season 1-5. As in, they won their first game and then lost 5 straight. The season was looking pretty bleak, and after just a few seasons, it wasn't difficult to wonder if Clark would clean house once again if the Chiefs only won a couple more games.

In Week 7 of that year, they defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was at that game. It didn't seem all that great. And then the team went to London the very next week to play the Detroit Lions. I was also at that game. They won. It was awesome, but at 3-5, there were still A LOT of questions.

And then Clark Hunt stepped up and put everyone at ease by saying he was going to stick with Andy and (GM at the time) John Dorsey, no matter what.

I was sitting in a hotel room when I heard that on the radio. As a Chiefs fan, I didn't realize then just how big of a decision that would be. Hunt didn't have to wait long for his faith to pay off. The Chiefs didn't lose another regular season game that year. After a 1-5 start, they rattled off 10 straight wins. And then they utterly dominated the Houston Texans in a shutout win that gave the team their first home playoff game in decades.

The Andy Reid show marched on, always doing just enough, while also never quite getting to the summit—until 2017. That's when the third act of Big Red's career really started, with the drafting of Patrick Mahomes.

The man who had spent close to two decades becoming known as one of the greatest head coaches ever, but without any hardware, now had the one thing he needed to potentially get him there. And it took all of three years for him to hoist his first Lombardi Trophy.

If you've been keeping track, that was Reid's 20th season as a head coach. Name another coach who was given that many chances, by multiple teams. It is unprecedented. But it shows just how good, and how loved, Andy Reid is as a head coach.

Perhaps more than anything, it is the patience of Clark Hunt that should be recognized here. Overcoming the 2015 debacle was one thing, but then to wait another five years? It seems like only the Steelers have more patience with their coaches.

And now, what took 50 years to accomplish, winning another Super Bowl, has been tripled in the span of just five. Nobody knows when Big Red will finally hang it up, but it's not happening anytime soon. With Patrick Mahomes by his side for the next five years, there's a high probably he adds to the ring collection.

But even if Andy Reid never wins another ring, the story that will be told in Canton will be one that is so unique, and so special, I don't think it will ever be matched.