The Philadelphia Eagles are aiming for Chip Kelly to erase the negative ghosts of Andy Reid, and surpass the positive ones. Yet for all of Reid’s services to the Eagles, the coach who has set the bar in modern day Philadelphia football history -- and is still beloved for it -- is Dick Vermeil. As such, his endorsement of Kelly is that much more meaningful.
Yahoo Sports’ The Post Game blog recapped Vermeil’s recent comments about Kelly on Jan. 23. Although they allegedly only spoke on the phone last week, Vermeil said that “from what I have been told” Kelly is a great leader, teacher and communicator. With those concepts, Kelly should supposedly have everything he needs to succeed in the NFL, even without past NFL experience.
Vermeil has a special insight into Kelly’s situation, since he came into the same one almost 40 years ago. Like Kelly, Vermeil came out of a Pac-10/12 school in UCLA to coach Philadelphia in 1976. Back then, the Eagles were in far worse shape than they are now, as they had been an irrelevant franchise since winning their last NFL title in 1960.
But against far greater odds than Kelly is facing now, Vermeil transformed Philadelphia’s culture and took it to the Super Bowl in just five years. And unlike Reid, Vermeil left the Eagles very quickly after that, due to being burned out -- and not due to years of losing that ruined his legacy.
That may be why Vermeil is still more beloved in Philadelphia than Reid, despite Reid’s longer history of success and having the same amount of NFC titles. In addition, Vermeil actually won a Super Bowl almost 20 years later with the St. Louis Rams, while Reid will try to win one much faster with the Kansas City Chiefs.
However, Vermeil came out of college and changed the Eagles during a much simpler time, when nothing was ever expected from them. But after 14 years of near misses with Reid, Kelly has a lot more to build on than Vermeil did. Yet after all that time, completely changing Philadelphia’s culture and game plan will be even more difficult, despite how the Eagles’ faithful are starving for change.
Vermeil set the bar for such a task, so his endorsement is telling. Still, the Eagles of today aren’t the Eagles of Vermeil’s time yet, to the city’s chagrin.