Andy Reid is hungry. He said so himself.
On Monday, after a 12th season under the Eagles head coach concluded without a championship, reporters gathered at the NovaCare Complex to watch players clean out their lockers and listen to Reid talk about how he "didn't expect" to be giving his end-of-season news conference so soon. Sound familiar? (Earlier, Jeremy Maclin said the day had a pronounced feeling of déjà vu to it, which is pretty astute for a guy who hasn't been around all that long.)
Reid's postmortem featured the same elements it has for more than a decade now - with one strange new twist. At the end of another in a long line of seminars dedicated to throat clearing and evasion, Reid was asked whether he's frustrated that, after all these years, he still hasn't won a Super Bowl. He took a moment to consider the question, which only made the answer more bizarre.
"To tell you I don't want to win a Super Bowl - I like prime rib, and I'd love to win a Super Bowl," Reid said. "So I'm hungry for both, if you understand where I'm coming from."
It's safe to say no one in the NovaCare auditorium knew where he was coming from. It was the last question Reid fielded, and then he walked off. Quite a few reporters remained behind and chuckled about the weird scene that had just unfolded. One snarky scribe suggested the day's headline should be "Where's the beef?"
I immediately went back and replayed the exchange just to make sure we hadn't heard Reid wrong. We didn't. At the end of the version I captured, you can hear one reporter say quite loudly "uh . . . what?" I have an Olympus digital recorder. The sound quality is excellent.
Even from the man who brought us such memorable gems as "poor English," "I goofed," and the immortal "do a better job", the Super Bowl/prime rib line was really something special. Whether he was trying to be funny or glib or simply got tied up in a tangle of words, that is how Reid headed into the off-season, and those are the words Eagles fans will chew on while they try to digest another season with an unpleasant but familiar aftertaste.
Andy Reid is hungry. For a Super Bowl. For prime rib. Maybe or maybe not in that order.
Reid said he's going to look at everyone and everything this off-season, including himself. If he did an honest job of introspection, he'd admit what many Philadelphians realized a long time ago: The annual and painful Groundhog Day reenactment the Birds put on each season is his fault. It's on him. Not Donovan McNabb or Terrell Owens. Not Brian Westbrook or Brian Dawkins. Not Lito Sheppard or Sheldon Brown or Jeremiah Trotter or Jon Runyan or Tra Thomas or any of the other players past or present.
It's Reid's fault. It always has been.
For the last 12 seasons, there have been lots of variables but only one main constant: Reid. That is the truth, and here's some more: Reid has recorded 128 wins in his career. That puts him 24th on the NFL's all-time list. (That's more than Mike Ditka and Dick Vermeil, but those guys have something far more important that Reid still doesn't.) That's nice enough if you care about marking down "W's" on a sheet for posterity, but not so hot if you enjoy parades and trophies.
Only two coaches have won more games than Reid but reached fewer Super Bowls - star-crossed Marty Schottenheimer and Chuck Knox. That fun fact would make for a good slogan to describe Reid's career: Not as inept as Marty or Chuck. It's catchy, but it might be hard to fit on a bumper sticker.
One of the other guys ahead of Reid on the NFL wins list is Marv Levy. He reached four Super Bowls with the Buffalo Bills, none of which ended well. It's been suggested in this space before that Reid is a poor man's Levy - except Levy knew when to call it quits and go do something else. Reid will get another chance next season.
And why not? You can't rush these things, and the Eagles don't appear to be in a hurry. This year they celebrated 50 seasons since the last championship. Why not throw another bash and commemorate 51? Aside from the organization, who's counting, right?
Yes indeed, Reid will be back next year, but some of his players won't return. They stopped by the checkout table set up in front of the training room on Monday, then went to their lockers to pack their belongings into boxes. That's what happens with this team around this time each year. You can count on it.
If you're still looking for a bright spot, that might be the only one: In a down economy, the Reid administration has kept countless Transtar workers employed. That's the official moving company of the Philadelphia Eagles.