I can’t speak for you, reader, but the second the matchup was made, I knew who I was rooting for in Super Bowl LIV: the Kansas City Chiefs. Their team name is problematic, to say the least (Still? In 2020?) and their ongoing employment of Tyreek Hill is very troubling, yes. But, as a lifelong resident of the great State of Washington, I am blessed and cursed to live and die a Seattle Seahawks fan, and watching those California-based San Francisco 49ers get their faces ground into the turf will give me plenty of passive-aggressive, Pacific Northwest-style pleasure. Second, you gotta root for Patrick Mahomes, that guy’s great. Mobile in the pocket and employs an occasional sidearm motion? A total stud.
But the primary reason I have devoted my temporary, mostly meaningless fidelity to the Chiefs, is that I want, I crave Super Bowl validation for the Chiefs’ coach, NFL fixture, and the football lifer of all football lifers, one Mr. Andy Reid. Reid is sixth in all-time NFL coaching wins, but Super Bowl glory has evaded him for his entire career. The list of reasons for his strange playoff losses goes on and on: weird clock management, bad luck, losing big leads, pukegate, you name it, it’s cursed him at some point or another. None of this really reflects on his true ability as a coach. Andy going out there and proving all those disgusting worms who have doubted his excellence wrong would be a blessing for all thinking sports fans.
It’s possible that Andy Reid is one of the more American human beings who has ever lived. A devotee of the dark arts of football, a sport so American that no other country in the world can even tolerate it, Andy is a Mormon (the most American religion), who attended BYU, where he played on the offensive line, the only position in all of athletics where his beautiful, powerful, roly-poly body could be properly utilized to dominate fools in the halls of sporting glory. Here is Andy as a giant 13-year-old, participating in a Punt, Pass and Kick competition during Monday Night Football, an experience that has only and will only ever be available to American teens:
After graduating, he became an assistant at BYU, and then drifted from college job to college job, grinding away across this great nation, preparing his younger brothers in the offensive-line trenches for battle every Saturday. Soon, tales of his gifts as a molder of men reached the Packers, where he was on the coaching staff of the team that won Super Bowl XXXI. From there, Reid helped turn around the Philadelphia Eagles, a team that had known only suffering and madness before he and his glorious mustache sat on the sidelines.
I don’t want to mince words, here: Reid works. He’s a lifer in an occupation where everyone is a lifer, a dude who lives for his craft. He’s a known tape obsessive, constantly putting together packages and plays, packing around little note cards that diagram plays that he shows to Mahomes regularly. When his son, Garrett, working on his coaching staff at the time, died of a heroin overdose during the Eagles’ 2012 training camp after a long battle with opioid addiction—an all too common outcome for American families during our country’s brutally inhuman 2010s—Reid would have been thought reasonable if he had stepped away from the job. But Reid is an American, and we seek meaning in work. When Eagles President Joe Banner suggested he take a year off, Reid was insistent: “This is what I do. I’m ready to go. Sitting around with all that idle time would be deadly to me.” So he just kept on going, as his team ground to a 4-12 record. His contract wasn’t extended, and he found himself working for a new team: the Chiefs.
White American masculinity has, in the last decade or so, become deeply associated with a kind of whiny entitlement, a narrow worldview that loathes the unfamiliar and rejects joy in favor of bitterness, Reid, while working in a sport and a profession that encourages the kind of anhedonic mindset that morons are convinced brings victory, is widely regarded as a generous colleague, mentor, and pal with an open mind and an expansive view of what works on the field. Back when he was working for the Eagles, he kept a sign behind his desk that read “Don’t Judge,” an exhortation to his players and coaching staff to keep an open mind about what works, without getting bogged down in the so-called rules of what’s expected of you by the rigid thinking that pervades in NFL clubhouses, years after baseball and basketball cast a lot of that nonsense behind.
By way of metaphor, here he is sporting a handsome Tommy Bahama shirt—a man of flowers swimming in a sea of coaches imprisoned in various states of blue:
In a recent interview with The Athletic, one offensive coordinator (speaking to the publication anonymously, because the NFL regards operational security like they’re the NSA) talked about what makes Reid so good at the tactical elements of football. In short: open-mindedness: “He doesn’t care about run/pass ratio or any of that b.s. He cares about getting his best players touches. It doesn’t matter if it’s a run, pass, screen, whatever. It may sound basic, but so many coaches are so tied to their scheme. Force-feeding a desired philosophy. He just feeds his playmakers. Always has. Why he wins so much.”
This open-mindedness is complemented by a generosity of spirit. He has a massive coaching tree in the NFL, the largest of any coach currently working: Super Bowl winners John Harbaugh and Doug Pedersen, Bears Coach Matt Nagy, Washington Coach Ron Rivers and scores of others. “You know he always would say when you get to be a head coach,” says Harbaugh, “you’ll want to think about this when the time comes.” Reid regards coaching as a teaching first and foremost, and is as invested in the success of those in his employ as himself. When he made the Super Bowl two weeks ago, Twitter was inundated with messages from his former players, cheering him on. When his current charges arrived in Miami for the Big Game, they were all dressed in Hawaiian shirts, as a gentle tribute. People just love the guy.
And why wouldn’t you? We’re talking about a dude who, if you run into him at the airport, will give you a giant list of cheeses you need for the ideal Thanksgiving mac and cheese:
At a time when so many American men are burrowing themselves deeper and deeper into regressive anger, Reid’s generosity of spirit and joyful demeanor deserve validation in the form of a fat-ass Super Bowl trophy. I hope the Chiefs make it happen for him.