By late morning yesterday, Andy Reid had heard about the speculation coming out of Atlanta. He understood, given his relatively close relationship with the Falcons' 65-year-old owner Arthur Blank, why his name might be mentioned as a possible replacement to Bobby Petrino.

Given everything, personally and professionally, that Reid has endured this year, it wasn't a stretch to think he might be ready for a change of scenery, a new challenge, a clean slate.

But Reid is not. While he admittedly has a healthy respect for the classy Blank and Falcons general manager Rich McKay, and while he has empathy for their situation, Reid is not looking to change jobs. He likes the one he's got. He's under contract. He's in no danger of getting fired. And he isn't even on the proverbial hot seat, even though the Eagles are in danger of missing the playoffs for the second time in three seasons.

Love him or hate him, Reid is the coach of the Eagles. Today, tomorrow, next season and probably the season after that.

After speaking with the Dallas media via teleconference yesterday about the Eagles' upcoming game against the Cowboys, Reid told me he is happy here in Philadelphia and in particular with the Eagles.

Would he be interested in the Falcons job? No, Reid said. He's not interested in any other job than the one he has.

The Falcons spent yesterday morning essentially in shock, still picking up the pieces the transparent Petrino left after misleading his owner on Monday. During a blistering news conference from the Falcons' practice facility, Blank said that Petrino shook his hand six hours before the Falcons' Monday night game against New Orleans and said he would remain the coach.

Blank told Petrino he had several media obligations that night, including a visit in the booth with ESPN's Monday Night Footbll crew, and asked what he should say. According to Blank, Petrino responded by saying he was the coach.

The next day, Petrino was gone after taking all of 10 seconds to tell his staff. Petrino's message to his players? He didn't have one. He just left, went to Arkansas and got introduced at 11:30 Tuesday night as the Razorbacks' new coach during a ridiculous pep-rally/news conference at which the cheerleaders led Petrino through a wooo-pig-sooie chant.

Petrino left the franchise, still reeling from Michael Vick's 23-month prison sentence handed down on Monday, simply shocked and dismayed. Blank said he felt betrayed. Blank certainly was left looking like a fool.

During his typical Wednesday news conference, Reid was asked for his thoughts about Petrino's abandoning Atlanta.

"It's a tough business," Reid said. "They have a great owner down there, one that's very close to the Luries," he said, referring to Jeffrey and Christina Lurie, the owner of the Eagles and his wife. "And they're just trying to do that thing the right way. It looks like their front office is very strong.

"The ones I probably feel the worst for are the players and the assistant coaches. You forget about the small things. Your assistant coaches went out and spent a lot of money on homes in the area - thinking they were going to be there for a couple years at least - then the players for getting revved up and playing for the person. So it's a tough situation that they're going through right now, especially with all the other things going on. But they'll work it out."

Reid told me he gave an atypically long answer about the Falcons because he had heard the speculation - not from anyone inside the Atlanta organization - that his name could come up. He likes and respects Blank, whom he has gotten to know during the NFL's annual meeting every year. Blank has picked Reid's brain in the past, Reid said. They have similar sensibilities, similar football values. Reid likened the setup in Atlanta to what he has here with Lurie and Joe Banner.

McKay said that he and Blank had not yet had time to put together a list of candidates, although he indicated he'd gotten telephone messages from "interesting" people. He and Blank spent the morning meeting with the staff, including the players. They elevated their secondary coach, Emmitt Thomas, to interim coach. They've got to prepare for their game Sunday against Tampa Bay.

They'd like to move quickly with their coaching search, McKay said, although NFL rules preclude teams from interviewing other NFL coaches until January. There are no rules, however, regarding interviewing, say, a television analyst. There are a couple of good ones out there.

It's expected that the Falcons will look for someone with head coaching experience, but McKay said he wouldn't limit his search.

"I will not rule anyone out," McKay said during the Falcons' nearly 90-minute news conference.

Added Blank: "Sometimes the names floated are of people who are just not available."

Put Andy Reid on that list.

Contact staff writer Ashley Fox
at 215-854-5064 or afox@phillynews.com.