Winning is the only thing in the NFL. Winning it all?
"That's what the organization is obsessed with," Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said yesterday after the team made coach Andy Reid's contract extension official in a news conference at the NovaCare Complex.
Reid received a three-year extension that will pay him through the 2013 season. At that point, he will have been with the Eagles for 15 seasons. Only 27 men in NFL history have coached in the league for 15 seasons, and only 12 spent at least 15 seasons with the same team.
Details of Reid's deal were not released, but a good guess is that he will make more than $5 million a season during the years covered by the extension.
Now in his 11th season, Reid already has more victories in the regular season (105) and playoffs (10) than any coach in franchise history. With the Eagles at 8-4 heading into Sunday's game against the New York Giants, Reid has a chance to go to the postseason for the eighth time in his 11 years.
The missing Super Bowl ring, however, remains the elephant in the room whenever Reid's resume is discussed.
"I would say very simply, that's where all my energy goes and the players' and the coaches' energy goes," Reid said. "Right now, we're looking at playing the Giants, but at the beginning of the year and as the year goes on, we know that our energy is put into winning a Super Bowl."
Despite his success, Reid has never been fully embraced by the fan base, and the reasons are multiple. He does not have the gregarious personality of Dick Vermeil or the sometimes brutal candor of Buddy Ryan.
Lurie, however, believes a majority of the fans support Reid, and even if they don't, that's not in his criteria for evaluating his coach.
"I think he has a tremendous support base in this region," Lurie said. "The fans are very smart, and they know how rare it is to be able to get to the playoffs almost every year and get to all of those [NFC] championship games. You can't win a Super Bowl unless you're in line to get to the playoffs and be in that championship game.
"As an owner, we don't base our decisions on trying to make popular decisions. It's not because Andy Reid has great support that his contract is being extended. It's the man, the coach, the body of work, and the prognostication for the future."
Lurie said he decided to give Reid the extension now instead of waiting until after the season.
"There were some obvious considerations, one of which is it sends a great message to the players right in the middle of the season," Lurie said. "In professional sports, there tends to be sort of a knee-jerk reaction to some ups and downs, and when you can find the right people, you want to achieve great stability."
Veteran linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, who has been brought back twice by Reid, said that the head coach does not always make popular decisions, but that he believes Reid always wants what is best for the Eagles.
"The bottom line is the record speaks for itself," Trotter said. "Andy is a really good guy. In his job as the coach and the vice president, a lot of times the fans aren't going to like the decisions he makes, and a lot of times as players you don't like them, either. But he wants what is best for the team."
Eagles president Joe Banner, who negotiated the extension with Reid's agent, Bob LaMonte, said there was no better coach available.
"OK, let's look forward, but let's look forward counting what people have done in the past as a good indicator of what they'll do in the future," Banner said. "Who's out there that gives us a better chance to be in the position of achieving the goal that's preoccupying everybody here? Our answer to that question is Andy Reid."
Lurie and Banner would not get 100 percent agreement from the fans on that belief, especially when Super Bowl winners such as Bill Cowher, Mike Shanahan, and Jon Gruden are not working in the league.
But Gruden just signed a contract extension with ESPN; it took Cowher 14 years before he won a Super Bowl, with Pittsburgh; and Shanahan won one playoff game in his final 10 seasons with Denver before being fired.
LaMonte said he never doubted he'd make a deal with the Eagles.
"Negotiating with the Eagles has never been about negotiations," LaMonte said. "It's about celebrations. The Eagles weren't relevant when Andy went there and now they've been one of the most relevant teams in the NFL for over a decade."
Lurie did not disagree.
In terms of fan support, television ratings, and franchise value, the Eagles may not be the gold standard, but this has been the golden era.
All that's missing is the ring.