Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

As Chip Kelly opens practice, beware first impressions

The history of the Eagles' franchise tells us that a new coach's first narrative isn't usually the lasting narrative.

In baseball, it is said, that life begins on Opening Day.

In football, I guess, life begins on OTA's.

We are going to get our first look at a Chip Kelly practice on Monday morning, which will add the first real visuals to the nascent narrative. What needs to be emphasized here, though, is that it is just a narrative. It is a story that will be bent and re-shaped -- into a pretzel, if necessary -- by the wins and losses that come in October and December and 2014 and 2015.

Repeat: it is just a story.

At the beginning, it is always just a story.

In 1983, when Marion Campbell took over for Dick Vermeil, there was lots of talk about Campbell's calm, steady hand in the season after Vermeil, famously intense, quit because he was burned out. Within about a year, the players were walking all over him.

In 1986, when Buddy Ryan took over for Campbell, there was all manner of conversation about how Ryan treated the players like dogs and called them by their numbers and not their names. By the end, he was fired because he was too much of a players' coach.

In 1991, the Rich Kotite narrative was about how business-like and buttoned-down was the way to go, rather than Ryan's irresponsible Animal House. Well, business-like and buttoned-down was exposed by lunchtime.

In 1995, Ray Rhodes followed Kotite and the story was about how Rhodes came from a winning program in San Francisco and would install a winning work ethic to a moribund franchise. In the end, his last time rolled over and died in a way that few teams ever have.

Then, in 1999, Andy Reid followed Rhodes. He arrived with no real reputation and a stack of binders filled with details -- and that first minicamp was all about that, about discipline and attention to detail and about how it all was such a breath of fresh air.

The point is, on the first day, it's always a breath of fresh air.

With that, breathe deeply.