ON THE DAY Andy Reid signed him to quarterback the Eagles, amid widespread civic disillusionment, Doug Pederson declared, "My best days are ahead of me."
Nearly 17 years later, we're about to find out whether that's still true.
As soon as the Kansas City Chiefs are done with the playoffs, Pederson, their offensive coordinator, will be announced as the 23rd head coach in Eagles franchise history. He will arrive as he did in '99, as something considerably less than the toast of the town, compared endlessly with higher-profile candidates many fans would have preferred.
Jeffrey Lurie, the owner whose hiring of Pederson was confirmed to the Daily News by an NFL source Thursday afternoon, will have to answer quite a few pointed questions about the twists and turns of the process that brought the Eagles to Pederson, about why a guy interviewed by no other teams, who has never worked for any other NFL coach than Reid, and has never regularly called plays, is his choice to lead the Eagles.
Lurie will be asked why he put former general manager Howie Roseman back in charge of personnel when he fired Chip Kelly - hired Thursday to coach the 49ers - last month, and how much of an issue Roseman's role was in interviews with coaching candidates who ended up elsewhere, such as Miami's Adam Gase and the Giants' Ben McAdoo. He'll be asked about the flurry of reports that the Eagles were close to hiring Tom Coughlin Thursday before the former Giants coach took his name out of contention.
Even though ESPN's Adam Schefter and then the Daily News' Paul Domowitch identified Pederson as a leading candidate early on, the perception will be that the Eagles ended up as settlers, like that family in the DirecTV commercials.
The Chiefs' offense hasn't been awe-inspiring this season, but they have taken care of the football - an Eagles problem - and they were ninth in the league in scoring, running a much more balanced version of the offense Reid used here for 14 seasons.
Pederson, who turns 48 on Jan. 31, is used to skeptics. He was an undrafted quarterback - in the days of the 12-round draft - out of Northeast Louisiana who scrapped his way onto the Dolphins' roster. They cut him five times, all told. He played in the World League twice, as he slipped on and off NFL rosters. He was a third-stringer much of that time, but as No. 2 and No. 3, he backed up Brett Favre in Green Bay and Dan Marino in Miami. He came to Philly at 31, with only 32 NFL passes to his credit, as a mentor to Donovan McNabb, teaching McNabb the West Coast offense Reid was bringing from Green Bay. Fans would have preferred to see the rookie, or at least somebody capable of creating something exciting behind a bad offensive line, with a suspect group of receivers. At the second game, a fan brandished a sign that read "DONOVAN McNOWW."
McNabb replaced Pederson after nine games, with the team 2-7, and Pederson finished his playing career with Cleveland and Green Bay, again backing up Favre, to whom he became almost like a coach. Then Pederson spent four years as a high school coach back in Louisiana before Reid made him the Eagles' offensive quality control coach in 2009. Two years later, Reid named Pederson to coach the Birds' quarterbacks. When Reid was dismissed after the 2012 season, then hired to coach the Chiefs, Pederson followed him as offensive coordinator.
The Eagles' coaching search, meanwhile, started with running backs coach Duce Staley and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, both of whom could stay under Pederson - especially if Pederson really wants to win over quarterback Sam Bradford, who is close to Shurmur. Bradford can be a free agent if the Eagles don't franchise him.
The Birds' first interview outside their own staff was Gase, the Bears' offensive coordinator, who might have been Lurie's early target, but that didn't go anywhere, for whatever reason. The Eagles were very interested in hiring McAdoo, an NFL source confirmed Thursday, but they never made him an offer, the source said, because it was apparent the Giants were interested in having McAdoo succeed Coughlin, and there was no reason for McAdoo to leave New York if he could be head coach there.
The Pederson news trickled out after Texas-El Paso let it be known that Ken Flajole, just hired to be the Miners' defensive coordinator, instead was taking a job as an assistant with the Eagles. Flajole had worked with Shurmur in St. Louis. But he also had worked in Green Bay when Pederson was a player there. Clearly, assistant coaches are hired by head coaches, and Flajole was being hired to fill out someone's staff. It just about had to be Shumur's or Pederson's.
The answer was Pederson's staff, though the Eagles did not acknowledge that Thursday, in a statement that said: "We have concluded our search for a head coach. No further interviews are scheduled."
You don't announce you've concluded the process without announcing that conclusion - unless you can't. Like the Falcons and then-Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn a year ago, the Eagles are prohibited from making Pederson's hiring official as long as the Chiefs are alive.
There were reports, the first from Sports Illustrated's Don Banks, that former Lions head coach Jim Schwartz might be Pederson's choice as defensive coordinator. If Shurmur doesn't become the offensive coordinator - a source close to the situation said Thursday night no decision has been made there - then Pederson might bring back former Eagles offensive coordinator Brad Childress, later the coach of the Vikings, who is currently stashed on Reid's KC staff as the spread game analyst. Of course, Reid might want to make Childress the OC there.
"That's a great hire," Eagles outside linebacker Brandon Graham said Thursday night, when asked about Pederson. "I loved his energy when he was here, and I'm sure not too much of him has changed . . . I can't wait to get after the 2016 season with him."
Former Eagles center Jamaal Jackson recalled Pederson as "very much a players' coach. Had a great relationship with just about everyone on the team." Jackson added that "guys would play for him, for sure."
Former Eagles quarterback A.J. Feeley recalled Pederson as "an extremely positive, straightforward and relatable coach that's rooted in the West Coast offense."
"I think Doug will do a great job," said former Eagles offensive lineman Todd Herremans. "Great offensive mind, and also will be able to relate to the players well."
Lurie made it clear, when he explained his abrupt firing of Kelly, back on Dec. 29, that he wanted a coach who "values emotional intelligence" who would work in a "collaborative" way with the personnel department. What players say about Pederson seems to make him a good fit in the first area, and the fact that Pederson has no juice to make any demands probably makes him a good fit, from the Lurie-Roseman perspective, in the second area.
"You've got to open your heart to players and everybody you want to have peak performance," Lurie said then.
He also said he wants someone who "understands the passion of our fans."
Pederson, the QB nobody pined for in '99, absolutely understands that.
On Twitter: @LesBowen