Reid’s coaching legacy extends to AFC foes

Kansas City's three remaining AFC opponents still alive for a possible Super Bowl berth have a common thread. The head coaches at all three have coached or otherwise worked under Reid in some capacity.



January 14, 2021 - 9:26 AM

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) speaks with head coach Andy Reid prior to a game against the Denver Broncos Dec. 6. Photo by Jamie Squire / Getty Images / TNS

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When the Chiefs meet Cleveland on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium, they formally will be playing in the AFC Divisional Round. But the proceedings might also be understood as the Andy Reid Invitational.

Each of the other three remaining conference teams is coached by men whose NFL careers began or were accelerated under the shade of Reid’s sprawling coaching tree — including Browns coach Kevin Stefanski.

Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski talks with his quarterback Baker Mayfield during a timeout Dec. 20. Photo by TNS
Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott Photo by Steve Mitchell / USA Today / TNS
Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh Photo by Kevin Richardson / Baltimore Sun / TNS
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And that’s much more than just a footnote.

At 62 and energized by the once-in-a-lifetime collaborative connection with Patrick Mahomes, Reid figures to coach on for some time now. And his profound contributions to the game and ultimately historical legacy are only beginning to be clear in the wake of his first Super Bowl triumph and ascension this season to fifth-winningest coach in NFL history.

Anyone who knows Reid well, though, knows this:

The way he’s nurtured others, both as a person and a coach, will always mean more to him than anything else.

One particularly tangible reflection of that is how many of those that he’s influenced or helped have advanced into the rarefied air of NFL head coaching jobs.

It says something important about how he’s viewed around the game and about how he views his own role. Never mind that he also happens to be 14-6 against former assistants, including 2-0 against them this season.

As he spoke Wednesday about why this element of the job was meaningful to him, Reid first alluded to the hard work done on his behalf by those in his employ.

Then he said that coaching is “not all X’s and O’s. It’s how you deal with people and take care of your players and at the same time give them whatever they need to be the best they possibly can be.”

As you see them mature in the work, he added, “You go, ‘Well, heck, they sure deserve a job, to have an opportunity to run their own building. And then teach others how to do the same things.’ I think it’s kind of a neat process as it works out over the years. I’m part of that process, because of Mike Holmgren (hiring him with the Packers). So I’ve lived this. And it’s kind of a neat deal.”

And a deal still unfolding.

Remember that “Six Degrees of Separation” concept, about how anyone on the planet is connected through no more than five links (six degrees)? With Reid around the NFL, you might be able to reduce the notion to two or three … with the scope seemingly sure to get closer in the years to come.

Especially if three highly credentialed current coordinators (Eric Bieniemy, Steve Spagnuolo and Dave Toub) soon get the chances that their achievements and reviews certainly suggest they should.

(A looser interpretation of “coaching tree” might include a fifth current coach, Indianapolis’ Frank Reich, who coached under Pederson in Philadelphia.)