Chip Kellys black book came in handy during those everlasting hours between the day he decided against working for Jeffrey Lurie and the day he officially hopped aboard.
Kelly, the former Oregon coach who on Wednesday was named the franchises first new head coach since Andy Reid replaced Ray Rhodes in 1999, sought the counsel of several coaching pals before making the cross-country jump from small-town Eugene, Ore., to noisy Philadelphia.
Among those to answer his call were Jon Gruden, a former Eagles assistant; Dick Vermeil, a former Eagles head coach; and Tony Dungy, whose recommendation to Lurie in 2009 to sign a formerly incarcerated Michael Vick helped the playoff-bound Eagles discover lighting in a bottle in 2010 as Vick reemerged into MVP form.
Though Kelly didnt dial up Bill Belichick -- another one of Reids industry confidants -- out of respect to his buddys pursuit of a fourth Super Bowl ring, you can bet those two had more than a few conversations about NFL life at some point during their powwows over how to double the dose of octane into New Englands huddle.
But of all the brains Kelly picked before accepting Luries offer, the least likeliest had the greatest influence on the New Hampshire natives decision to strap on a fresh set of Nikes and trek back East.
Reid, who had been fired by the Eagles on Dec. 31 after 14 seasons, wound up being one of Kellys most trustworthy advisors as the coveted college coach mulled whether or not to take his talents to South Philly.
One person that I really want to thank, in terms of advice in this whole thing, was Andy Reid, Kelly said in his introductory press conference. And the fact that Andy reached out to me and told me about his experience here just told me what this organization is all about. Theres not a classier guy.
Not only did Big Red send a congratulatory text message Wednesday morning but the franchises most successful coach -- by about 10 miles -- also cautioned Kelly, a vastly different breed of personality than Reid, against trying to follow in his predecessors pathway.
When Andy texted me yesterday when I accepted the job, I told him that I had really, really, really big shoes to fill, Kelly said. And in typical Andy fashion, he said, Just be yourself and youll be fine. I want to publicly thank Andy, because that really right there spoke to me about what this organization is all about.
Reid admitted such in an interview with NBC Sports and also helped assuage any fears that the Eagles new head man, who lacks any experiencing coaching at the professional level, wasnt the right man for the job.
I want whats best for the Philadelphia Eagles, Reid said. That part hasnt changed. I want those kids there and management to have the best possible coach they can have, so they can win and have success.
Although word on the street was that the job had become much less desirable, Reid echoed a vastly different sentiment. He told Kelly if they offer that job, take it.
Kelly did and was given a five-year deal, worth around 32.5 million, according to a report from ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Say what you want about the dysfunction that corrupted the teams front office and coaching staff over the past several months -- and probably much longer -- but where else does a fired head coach not only maintain strong ties to his former team, but also become an advocate in the teams search to replace him?
You think Lovie Smith whipped out a map of Toronto last week and told Bears management theyd find their guy right there?
Go ask former Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton, a very viable head coaching candidate, for his opinion on being trumped for the job by Bruce Arians.
We all have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for Coach Reid, president Don Smolenski said. How can you not after 14 years? I think you heard Coach Kelly, I think it speaks volumes that he reached out to a guy who, in some respects, he had just been fired. Coach (Reid) was great. He was helpful for us, supportive. Obviously he spoke positively about his time here, the fans, the organization, everything.
When the committee of Lurie, Smolenski and general manager Howie Roseman set out on the franchises first head coach search since the Clinton Administration -- a 15-day tour that spanned at least six cities -- the trio understood that any prospective interview would be foolish not to tap into Reids memory bank and dig up nearly a decade-and-a-half of whatever dirt they could find.
Instead, candidates were drawn to a video that went viral from Reids final day as Eagles head coach, of Reid and Lurie addressing the team shortly in a meeting room and of Lurie handing an Eagles game ball to the man he had just pink-slipped while the room broke out in applause.
They saw Jeffrey and Coach in front of the whole organization and that whole exchange and they saw that as, Wow, that was tremendously respectful, Smolenski added. And that resonated with them. Some prospective coaches had been contacted by other NFL teams earlier and they were like, Wait a minute, you already have a head coach. Im a coach. So ... what are you going to do when its my turn?
Kelly said Reid and Vermeil were the most influential voices in helping him to understand the uniquely special bond between the franchise and its rabid, and very impatient, fan base. They also convinced him that the job wasnt as unsightly as some had tried to portray.
As the search trio was being sauteed by media reports, anonymous sources who aided those reports and local diehards who believed that more than two weeks of uncertainty symbolized a failing effort by the organization, Lurie remained confident that his sources were more credible and would ultimately communicate the message properly.
Lurie urged every candidate to call Reid, who had been hired by the Chiefs just four days after becoming a free agent, and ask any kind of question, no holds barred.
We have such a close relationship over the years and the trust is there, Lurie said. Its a very special rapport we have with Andy. He reached out to most of the top candidates to tell them what its like to work with myself, Howie, Don, what the organizations all about; how obsessed we are with winning, doing it the right way.
If I am a head coaching candidate the one person I want to talk to is Andy Reid. It was an important part of the process where they would reach out to him. I have a close enough relationship with Andy where I can probably eliminate some candidates if he thought they were not good enough in that sense. Thats how close we are. I know what he feels about Chip Kelly, and its outstanding.
E-mail Geoff Mosher at email@example.com.