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Eagles hire Packers assistant Andy Reid as new head coach

After a courtship of four days, the Eagles will introduce Andy Reid as their 20th head coach today.

Originally published on Monday, Jan. 11, 1999.

After a courtship of four days, the Eagles will introduce Andy Reid as their 20th head coach today.

The former Green Bay Packers assistant is something of an unknown, but his strong interview and enthusiasm impressed the Eagles, who were not thrilled with remarks made last week on the West Coast by Reid's primary competitor for the job, Pittsburgh's Jim Haslett.

Reid, 40, is making the rare jump from position coach to head coach. He will be the second-youngest head coach in the NFL, behind only Oakland's Jon Gruden, a former Eagles assistant coach.

From the moment Reid became available last week, the Eagles focused their full attention on him, and they were struck by his positive attitude. But according to those familiar with the process, the search to replace Ray Rhodes, who was dismissed last month after four years as head coach, began several months ago.

Owner Jeffrey Lurie, director of football operations Tom Modrak and executive vice president Joe Banner put together a relatively short list of candidates. Reid and Haslett, the Steelers' defensive coordinator, were at the top.

The team interviewed Haslett first because, when the Steelers failed to make the playoffs, he was available first. Modrak, who worked in Pittsburgh last year, likes Haslett and believes he will make a good NFL head coach. Clearly, Modrak's relationship with Haslett prompted the Eagles' keen interest in him.

But the Eagles had to be concerned about Haslett's public and private comments that Philadelphia wasn't his first choice. After leaving here, Haslett interviewed in Seattle, where he raved to reporters about the Seahawks' facilities and plans for a new stadium. After four seasons of rumors that Rhodes was unhappy in Philadelphia, that kind of talk couldn't have helped Haslett.

It was Modrak, in fact, who made one of the most telling public comments of the last two weeks. Asked what he sought in a candidate, Modrak talked about leadership, intelligence and passion, then added: ``And you want a guy who wants to be here. That's important. ''

Reid is that guy. Modrak was also high on Reid from the beginning. As Lurie said Dec. 28, when Rhodes was fired, he retained final say on hiring the head coach. But he planned to lean on Modrak, who was hired in May because of his football lifer's insight into the NFL. Simply put, Modrak knows who the up-and-coming coaches are, and Reid was near the top of his list.

The Eagles contacted Reid last Monday, the day after the Packers were knocked out of the playoffs by the 49ers in San Francisco. Also last Monday, the Eagles contacted Reid's mentor, former Packers head coach Mike Holmgren. They knew all along that Holmgren, who sought a head coach/general manager's job, was a long shot but decided to make a run at him.

Because of his commitments in Green Bay, the Eagles couldn't bring Reid in for an interview until Thursday. They talked to former Carolina head coach Dom Capers on Wednesday. Reid came in Thursday. Oakland defensive coordinator Willie Shaw interviewed Friday.

What no one knew at the time was that Reid stayed in Philadelphia on Thursday night and talked to the Eagles again Friday morning. When Holmgren took a job with the Seattle Seahawks that day, the Eagles' decision was made. Holmgren had already indicated to Reid that he would take him to Seattle as his offensive coordinator.

Reid flew home to Green Bay on Friday. On Saturday, a plane chartered by the Eagles brought Reid and his wife, Tammy, back to Philadelphia. The couple spent Saturday looking around the area, considering it as a home for themselves and their five children. They dined at Lurie's home Saturday night.

Bob LaMonte, Reid's agent, flew in yesterday from his Nevada home to complete the deal. Terms were not available. It is believed to be a five-year contract. LaMonte, who is also Holmgren's agent, will pull off the neat trick of attending introductory news conferences on opposite coasts in three days.

The next important move for the Eagles is hiring a defensive coordinator. Reid's experience is on the offensive side of the ball. There were indications last night that Packers coordinator Fritz Shurmur might join Reid's staff. That would fill the need for an experienced, innovative defensive presence.

Nolan Cromwell, who coached the Packers receivers, could join the Eagles as secondary coach. Cromwell spent 11 seasons as a safety with the Los Angeles Rams.