Chip Kelly has been billed as a tireless worker, constantly studying and breaking down game film. His first assignment, on his first day at his new job, was ingratiating himself to the locals.
At his introductory press conference Thursday, Kelly jokingly referenced both the Wing Bowl and Vince Papale. The new Eagles coach, dressed in a black golf shirt emblazoned with an Eagles logo, called Philadelphia a “special situation.”
“It was very evident to me, it’s an iconic franchise with a passionate, passionate owner and great people in this company, and that’s the thing that struck me,” Kelly said.
When the Eagles first approached Kelly about the job, about 11 days ago, he turned it down to stay at Oregon. But Eagles GM Howie Roseman kept in contact with Kelly and through a mutual friend heard that Kelly was wavering.
Talks heated up Tuesday night and — after Kelly had a chance to address his college team privately — he phoned Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie to tell him he was ready to leave campus. Kelly called the decision final.
“I burned the boat. I’m not going back [to college],” he said. “I made the jump. I want to be an NFL coach.”
Kelly is in the process of evaluating the Eagles’ roster and selecting assistant coaches. He raved about Nick Foles, but wouldn’t name a starting quarterback. All that will come soon enough.
“We’re going to look at everything we can do to put the best product on the field,” he said. “There’s nothing that’s on the board right now. There’s nothing that’s off the board right now.”
It was Oregon or Eagles
The Eagles weren’t the only NFL team interested in hiring Chip Kelly. The Cleveland Browns, led by former Eagles president Joe Banner, also held court with him but those talks disintegrated when his meeting with Eagles brass ran long, forcing Kelly to cancel a second interview.
Kelly, following a nine-hour interview with the Eagles, said he never considered Cleveland. It was always either taking the leap with the Birds or staying at Oregon.
“From the Saturday that we had the meeting it was just, ‘Can I leave what I have?’” Kelly said, referring to his Oregon players. “Sometimes you have to leave the nest to better yourself, or leave one nest as a duck and go to another nest as an eagle.”
Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie added that he knew after that initial rendezvous in Arizona that he had no competition for Kelly’s services from other NFL teams, not even Cleveland. Remember, Lurie and Banner reportedly had a falling out in Philadelphia.
“We were not in competition with anybody for any of our candidates,” Lurie said. “We could take our time. I’ve got to say to you, 14 days is lightning fast to have to make a decision of this magnitude.”
Give an assist to Big Red
Would an owner of a Fortune 500 company consult a former employee about his replacement? Probably not. Yet that’s exactly what Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie did when he reached out to Andy Reid to glean insight on Chip Kelly.
“We have a strong, strong relationship with Andy. We always will,” Lurie said.
Reid, in turn, contacted Kelly in an effort to sell him on the Eagles’ organization. Big Red sent Kelly a text message Wednesday to congratulate him.
“One person that I really want to thank, in terms of advice in this whole thing, was Andy Reid and the fact that Andy reached out to me and told me about his experience here just told me what this organization’s all about,” said Kelly, adding that he also consulted another former Eagles coach, Dick Vermeil. “There’s not a classier guy [than Reid].”