This is the most personal column I have written in my five years at Metro. It represents the feelings of no one but myself, and it is intended to sway none of the Eagles fans who cheered the return last week of Andy Reid. I offer it here simply to counteract his bogus story of triumph.
My deep dislike of Reid is the product of countless hours watching him coach and — far more importantly — listening to him speak. My job at WIP radio requires a daily analysis of what the coach says, so I have heard every deception, absorbed every moment of disrespect, in Reid’s long tenure.
Unlike the fans who stood and applauded Reid’s return last week, I will never shake the indignities — the grotesque way he abandoned his greatest player here, Brian Dawkins, or the inhumane departure of his finest kicker, David Akers. Reid excelled at one thing in his time here: the ability to perpetrate a fraud.
And he did it again before and after Kansas City’s 26-16 win over the Eagles, a return to Philadelphia that he insisted was just another game until he had won it. Then, his happy ending secure, he was free to kiss a reporter’s head, gush over his sense of accomplishment and even revel in a Gatorade bath.
Four decades ago, I was trained at journalism school to value one thing above all others, the truth. Andy Reid was an enemy to that commitment every day of his 14 years as coach. He was honest only when it served his own interests, constantly hiding behind his obligation to the players.
If Chip Kelly has proved anything in his short time here, it is that there is a way to remain loyal to the players and also maintain a respect for the fans. Andy Reid never cared about that because the fans never represented anything more to him than a home-field advantage, a soundtrack to his own success.
The greatest injustice in a week filled with them was the coach’s latest fake conquest last Thursday night, when Reid prevailed over the Eagles players he had selected with the ones he had inherited in Kansas City. To me, his victory simply reinforced how weak the team was that he left behind.
With the game still in doubt, Reid made a terrific play call on Thursday night. It was third-and 10 at his own 5-yard line, 10:10 left in a 7-point game, and the coach targeted safety Nate Allen — a second-round bust in Reid’s putrid 2010 draft — for the first down that secured the victory.
For that play, Andy Reid was honored but not by me. From my perspective, the only thing last week proved was that Andy Reid remains, above all else, a master of deception. Somehow, after all these years, people still think he is both a good coach and a good man.
Chip Kelly should shape roster now
One of Chip Kelly’s first challenges as Eagles coach is identifying who can help him turn around this rebuilding franchise, and who cannot. He is saddled with the unenviable task of undoing the many roster mistakes of GM Howie Roseman and coach Andy Reid. So let’s help him by removing some of the team’s biggest problems.
First of all, safety Nate Allen needs to go right now. He is killing the defense with his failure to read patterns, pitiful ball skills and ineptitude in tackling receivers after they beat him. The biggest reason Kansas City outlasted the Birds on Thursday night was Allen’s inability to cover Donnie Avery on crossing patterns. Goodbye, Nate.
His partner back there in the secondary, Patrick Chung, is also brutal. Chung can’t tackle. He should be eternally grateful to Roseman for signing him to a free-agent deal anyway. Now he should take his money and run.
On offense, there is one glaring move that must be made soon. Riley Cooper must be cut. The big question is, why is he still here? There are players on the taxi squad — Jeff Maehl, for one — who offer more promise as possession receivers, without the racial baggage Cooper is carrying. Good riddance, Riley.
Soon to join these underperformers on the endangered-species list should be kicker Alex Henery, who is better at getting called for penalties and flubbing fumbles than kicking straight; Damaris Johnson, who appears equally inept at returning kicks and punts; and — surprisingly — guard Todd Herremans, who has played so badly the last two games, he is making people forget Danny Watkins.
It is already painfully clear that none of the above names will be around when and if Kelly ever returns the Eagles to respectability. How soon the new coach is willing to make these sacrifices will reveal a lot about him.
If you can’t take the heat, get out of Philly
The assault never ends. Philadelphia sports fans consistently pass every national test with their class and passion, as they did last Thursday night in honoring Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb. But huge attendance numbers, big TV ratings and skyrocketing franchise values mean nothing to the critics.
Last week, those critics included former ace pitcher Roy Halladay and former Eagles trainer Rick Burkholder, both of whom lamented the demanding nature of the fans here.
Halladay should know better because he forced a trade from Toronto to Philadelphia to channel the passion of our city, or so he said at the time four years ago. Now he’s whining that it’s difficult to rehab his aging right arm while under the scrutiny of the public. Really? Does his $20 million salary include a provision for privacy, too?
Burkholder, a longtime lapdog for Andy Reid during their 14 years together here, took his loyalty to a new level when he said Reid “won 10 games for 10 years in Philly basically and, still in the end, it wasn’t enough.” Very true. In 14 tries, Reid never won the Super Bowl. Why is that so unreasonable?
Halladay and Burkholder need to spend more time examining themselves instead of the fans. What they need to realize is that Philadelphia is only too demanding to sports figures who don’t demand enough of themselves.
Idle thoughts from Cataldi
» Is it too soon to point out that Donovan McNabb gave one of the worst stadium speeches in Philadelphia sports history when his No. 5 was retired last Thursday night? OK, maybe he deserves a few more days of acclaim, but then can we finally turn the page on this awkward, strange man?
» Thursday Night Football is just another example of how greedy the NFL has become. The quality of play is terrible, the risk of injury is greater with just four days between games and the public hasn’t embraced it the way it has every other game day. Can the NFL ever admit when it’s wrong?
» Andrew Bynum actually told the Cleveland media last week that there is no timetable for his return from the same knee problems that kept him off the court here last year. He’s wrong. There is a very distinct timetable. He will be back around Jan. 10, when his contract guarantees another $6 million. Bet on it.
» Ryne Sandberg is officially the new manager of the Phillies. He has waited a long time and paid some heavy dues for the opportunity. However, the presence of GM Ruben Amaro and the current state of the roster call to mind an ominous saying: Be careful what you wish for.
» The Los Angeles Dodgers are in big trouble for celebrating their division championship in the Arizona stadium pool last week. Don’t you wish the Phillies had problems like this?