Found September 18, 2013 on Fox Sports Kansas City:
Carolina-panthers
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The man Melissa Firman knew had a heart with its own zip code, a soul that danced on a sunbeam. The Andy Reid she knew didn't grunt or grouse or keep the media safely away at arm's length. The Andy Reid she knew was a teddy bear, a man visibly shook up upon hearing the horror stories of a wife who'd once been chained by an abusive husband to a sink for days a time. The Andy Reid she knew went over to that woman, after they were introduced, and felt compelled to give her a hug. "You could always see him getting emotional afterward," Firman says of the Kansas City Chiefs coach, whom she'd worked with as director of development and public relations at Laurel House, a Philadelphia-based domestic violence shelter, from 2005-2010. "And after the women would speak, or there would be a teenager that would speak, he would just take the person aside afterwards and just give them an encouraging word. "You could see the expression in the person's face, that to be recognized by somebody like that ... I think it really meant a lot. And I think that the Andy Reid that I got to know, that it was a privilege to get to know, I just wish that more natives of Philadelphia got to know." The closer you were to Andy Reid and his wife Tammy, the more conflicted you are this week. Reid's new team, the Chiefs, will play his old team, the Eagles, Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field, to kick off the NFL's Week 3 slate. It's a national, made-for-television matchup, the kind of reality that reality shows can't touch. The Reids spent 14 years in Philly, 14 mostly good years, 14 complicated years, 14 conflicted years, 14 years that ran the gamut from triumph to tragedy and touched every possible flash point in between. Reid is the winningest coach in Eagles history. He's one of only two men to lead the franchise to a Super Bowl, yet was nudged out of town after a 4-12 campaign last fall. His game plans and clock management -- Dat guy throws the ball too much! -- became civic talking points, yet he also won seven division titles along the way. Sports years in Philly are like dog years -- they age you quicker than they do in most towns, even during the good times, yet Reid thrived for more than a decade. His family became the first family of the city, which also meant exposing his loved ones (and his sons' very public battles with substance abuse) to the underbelly of the fish-bowl existence. "But he's such a strong man with great principles and great faith and he survived it," says Dick Vermeil, the former Chiefs and Eagles coach. "And I think the city, it did a good job of showing their respect for him when he went through his problems beyond football. And I think they'll show real empathy when he shows up on Thursday evening." It's funny, though: The farther away you get from the football side of Philly, the more the Reids are missed. You hear stories of the Andy who went to a microphone at one swanky charity auction and urged the well-off patrons in the room to get off their duffs, shake the lead out of their respective wallets and remember what they were there for. Stories of the Tammy who worked the concession stand at Harriton High School football games, same as any other parent. Stories of large checks coming into the Harriton football program from mysterious benefactors who wanted to make sure every kid who wanted to go to a summer camp had the finances to do so. "And I'll be honest with you: Half the time, you wouldn't know," Harriton athletic director Tom Ferguson says. "They would just give it to the football coach and say, 'Take care of the kids.'" We asked the Chiefs coach to talk for this story, to talk about the lives he touched in Philly, to talk about the people he left behind. He declined. This isn't about him, a team staffer told us. This is about something bigger. Which, in a way, is very, very Andy, the kind of nothing that says absolutely everything. When they'd first moved to greater Philly, all those years ago, Andy had suggested to his wife that she sink her teeth into a non-profit, something she could cradle close to her heart. Tammy embraced Laurel House so tightly that she even took the coursework necessary to become certified as a domestic violence counselor. "People always asked her, 'Why did you pick domestic violence?'" recounts Beth Sturman executive director at Laurel House. "She said that she felt fortunate that she had such a loving husband and she was raised in household where she and her mother were treated so well, and she wishes that everyone woman could have that kind of love and support and respect." Sturman's first meeting with Tammy was at a planning session for Laurel House's annual spring gala; the coach's wife came in with friend carrying a door painted like a football field that had been designated for auction. "And she was just so full of enthusiasm and energy," Sturman says, "(She said), 'We can do this.'" Tammy backed it up in word and in deed, volunteering, working the phones, making appearances, banging the drum to the last. This past May, the Reids held a giant "garage sale" to clear away their stock of Eagles and Eagles-related goods and donated the proceeds to Harriton High, where their sons played football, and Laurel House, which was presented a 10,000 check in memory of their late son Garrett. Financially, Sturman, says, the Reids were worth "a lot, absolutely. Hundreds of thousands of dollars" to the organization, but that their real value went far beyond that. The coach's Q rating raised the profile of Laurel House with men, with families, and with football fans all over the metro. "He knows all of our staff member's kids," Sturman says of the Chiefs coach, "and he remembers (their ages) from year to year, and remembers their names. If they're not around, he'll ask about so-and-so, and what grade are they in now. "Just real sociable, good-natured, a good sport about the whole thing. I'm sure there have been times when carrying boxes into a venue wasn't his idea of a good time. Once you have somebody connected to Laurel House, if you're a significant other, you're pitching in, you get right in there with the rest of the guys." They were a fantastic team in that respect; Tammy's passion was Andy's passion, and vice versa. On several occasions, the coach would be at a Laurel House gala, listening to a keynote speaker, often someone who had spent time at the shelter, and almost be moved to tears. "They were extremely down to earth," Firman says. "They would always take time to sign autographs. I know Tammy has been quoted in other Philly articles that the fans didn't really get a chance to know the real Andy. "The Andy Reid I saw, I saw a guy who would talk to a mom who had just gone in the shelter with her kids after surviving a domestic violence episode and would talk to her kids and say it would be OK ... so I think if more Philadelphians got a chance to see that Andy Reid, vitriol and the animosity at the end, it may have been a little bit lessened, I think." When Harriton High moved its football games from Saturdays to Fridays, it gave Reid had more chances to watch his sons play. Of course, it also occasionally meant interactions with Eagles fans young and old; some weeks, Ferguson would put Andy on the sideline with the team, just so the NFL veteran wouldn't be bothered. During one contest, against Strath Haven, kids ran up to Reid armed with posters, pizza boxes -- anything they could get their hands on for him to sign. "I've never seen a guy give his time (like that)," Ferguson says. "Kids would come up to him, kids (from) opposing team, and he would sit and talk with them during the games ... and the kids on the other team would run over and shake his hand and he's tell them what a good job they did. "There's a lot of people whose kids have gone here, high-profile people, so to speak, and some people out there who would put themselves out there more than others. (Andy) would do anything that you asked of him and never wanted any special treatment. He just wanted to be like everybody else." Ferguson recalls another time when a promising Rams football player was having academic problems, a period during which this particular young man seemed especially distracted. Reid invited the teen to come down to the Eagles' training facility, the NovaCare Complex, to have a chat. "It was probably just as much time," Ferguson says, "as (it was) financial with them." Even though time, especially in the fall, was precious. Precious and rare. "I can't tell you how many places I went during the season on a Tuesday or a Wednesday night and he would drop over to that charity," Vermeil says. "He would drop in and pay his respects and make his contributions and go back to work. Just a very caring, very civic-minded person." Just a softie, a warm embrace hiding behind a gruff, blunt, mustachioed faade. "He did some awesome things in Philly, and Philly loves him regardless," Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt says. "And if they boo him, or us, and any players that we got from Philly that are here now, it's just a respect thing." It's a bit of a sad thing, too. The folks up at Laurel House miss the heck out Tammy and Andy. And they won't be the only ones in Philly with mixed emotions when Reid locks horns against the franchise that he'd sacrificed so much blood, sweat and tears trying to rebuild. "Thank heaven text messages and long-distance calls are free these days," Sturman says with a chuckle. "And don't tell our comrades here in Philadelphia, but we, frankly, hope (the Chiefs) win. Andy deserves a good strong win." You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at seanmkeeler@gmail.com
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Reid downplays return to Philly

Andy Reid cleared his throat, uttered some familiar phrases and downplayed his return to Philadelphia. Same old Andy. ''That's not where I'm at right now,'' Reid said when asked if it's going to be emotional when his Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) play the Eagles (1-1) on Thursday night. ''I don't feel that way. If we weren't playing a football...

Faux Andy Reids Invade Chiefs’ Bar In Philly

Andy Reid or The Kool Aid Man Alex Smith Has His Own Cereal ‘Cap’n Checkdown’

Faulty Friday Photoshop: Big Red

Andy Reid came back to Philadelphia last night as head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs and emerged victorious. Reid is often called Big Red. While watching the Netflix series Orange is the New Black, seeing a character in charge named Red just reminded me of Reid. Also, as a bonus, here’s the Andy Reid as a tomato photoshop that I made that’s been making the rounds. I probably...

Preview: Chiefs tasked with stopping high-powered Eagles offense

Amidst the hype and emotion surrounding Andy Reid's return to Philadelphia this week, the veteran coach is doing his best to focus only on making sure the Kansas City Chiefs remain unbeaten. Facing the Eagles for the first time since they fired him after 14 years as coach, Reid looks to guide the Chiefs to a 3-0 start Thursday night. After leading Philadelphia to nine playoff...

Awkward At Best: Andy Reid’s Return To Philadelphia

I guess it takes 14 years, 130 wins, six NFC East titles and an NFC Championship to shape a legacy. For a franchise without a Super Bowl, Andy Reid came closest to a gold standard. Thursday night, he’ll return to Lincoln Financial Field. It’s a narrative all of us Eagles fans saw coming when schedules […]The post Awkward At Best: Andy Reid’s Return To Philadelphia appeared...

WATCH: Reid gets weird with Paolantonio in postgame interview

Things got a little pushy and a lot weird as Kansas City Chiefs new coach Andy Reid made his way through the postgame scrum of reporters and photographers after his team had just defeated his former team the Eagles, 26-16, on his old stomping grounds at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. When ESPN's Sal Paolantonio approached the coach —after what had to be a gratifying...

Jamaal’s the Eggman, Reid Is the Walrus, Goo-Goo-G’Joob!

It was a nice return to Philly for the Walrus, Andy Reid, as his Chiefs took down his former team.  The team that has been a talk of the NFL despite starting 1-1 with a defense made of wet paper with holes big enough to make Jenna Jamison blush has overshadowed Reid’s new team.  You know, the one that has flown under the radar to a 2-0, now 3-0 start.  This isn’t fantasy relevant...

Thanks for the Short week, NFL !! The Andy Reid Revolution comes to Philly...

We barely have time to digest the close loss to the Chargers... and now this... Two "short week" games in a row for the Eagles. That's two darts too many. And this time it's really a short week... It works both ways. KC's Sunday's win over the Dallas Cowboys is forgotten. There's no more talk of the 17-16 victory over the Dallas Cowboys; instead...

Eagles retiring McNabb’s number tonight, QB disses new offense

Source: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America Donovan McNabb had a great run as the quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles. Prior to Thursday nights game against the Kansas City Chiefs the Eagles will retire McNabb’s No. 5 in front of the home crowd at Lincoln Financial Field. While this ensures that Andy Reid will be at the ceremony, there is something ironic with the guy linked...

2013 Fantasy Football: Week 3 Thursday Night Match-up & Sit/Start Advice

The NFL season keeps rolling on, and Week Three is now upon us. It will begin with Andy Reid returning to Philadelphia with his new team on Thursday night, as the Kansas City Chiefs take on the high-scoring Eagles. As always, RotoBaller.com is here to guide you through the match-ups and sit/start dilemma for Week [...]

Andy Reid Gives Rather Awkward Interview With Sal Paolantonio After Win Over Eagles (Video)

Kansas City Chiefs pulled off their greatest victory of the young season Thursday night in Philadelphia, but Andy Reid didn’t seem too keen on talking about it afterward. The win was a big step for the Chiefs, pushing them to 3-0 after winning just two games in 2012, but it was monumental for Reid, who had spent 14 seasons with the Eagles before getting run out of town after last...

Michael Vick: Andy Reid’s One Of The Greatest Men I’ve Ever Met

Michael Vick owes Andy Reid his life. I know that may be a bit overboard, but the fact is Vick owes Andy Reid a ton.  Upon being released from prison in 2008, Vick wasn’t sure he’d get another shot in the league. The first and maybe only phone call Vick got after his release was from Big Red himself.  Vick of course went on to win the Eagles job a year later, signed another...

Andy Reid ‘focused’ on beating Eagles

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid says he’s focused on Thursday night’s game and will not be distracted by the hype surrounding his return to Philadelphia. Reid, the winningest coach in Eagles history, guided the team to five NFC title games, eight division titles and

NFL Picks Week 3: Homecoming Week Edition

Welcome in to another magical, mystical edition of the NFL picks of the week, where this week, Andy Reid goes back to Philly, Ed Reed goes back to Baltimore, and the Steelers, Giants and Redskins lead the list of teams looking to get off the schneid this week.Plus, is this the week I finally pick the Cowboys to win for the first time this year?All that, plus the usula riff-raff you...

Kansas City Chiefs: Andy Reid has expectations high

The Kansas City Chiefs are the feel-good story of the NFL season after three weeks. In 2012, they finished 2-14 and earned the right to select first in the NFL Draft. Gone was the old regime and in came Andy Reid after 14 terrific seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. Arrowhead Stadium, Joe Delaney, and Deron Cherry some of my favorite football memories fro...
Chiefs News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.