EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- For years, I had this vision of how Andy Reid would walk away. I carried it until pretty recently, until about 2010. The way I figured it, the final camera shot would go like this: Reid finishing the press conference after the Super Bowl, finding his wife, Tammy, in the crowd of reporters -- she always goes to his post-game press conferences -- and walking away with one arm around her and the Lombardi Trophy in the other.
It was cinematic and Hollywood, yes -- but didn't the law of averages have to work for Reid at some point? Didn't it? That was the theory, anyway. In the last 2 years, though, the vision changed. We all know the reasons -- Michael Vick, a couple of bad drafts, a failure to replace Jim Johnson at defensive coordinator despite repeated attempts. And while it was easy to see it ending badly, it was hard to predict the last day.
Sunday was the last day.
It was cold and miserable and buffeted by a bitter wind. It was sloppy and inept. And when it was over -- historians will record the final final score for Reid as the Eagles' coach was Giants 42, Eagles 7 -- the black-clad coach left the sidelines for the last time. All that remains is the press conference where he will be fired, presumably on Monday.
He will be known for how much he won, and how much his quarterbacks threw the ball. He will be known for "time's yours" and taking responsibility and needing to put his players in a better position and looking forward to the privilege of playing everyone. He will be remembered for being the best coach the Eagles ever had at the same time he is remembered for failing to win the the Super Bowl.
The final indignities of the final Sunday -- the bad tackling, the terrible secondary play, the erratic quarterbacking of Vick, the deserved fourth-quarter benching of cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha -- will not linger, mostly because almost nobody was paying attention. But the answer to the trivia question will be this: Reid's first quarterback was Doug Pederson and his last quarterback was Trent Edwards, who mopped up Sunday.
There was no spotlight on the players, not on this day. All eyes were on Reid, with the rolled-up play chart in his left hand and the red challenge flag in his back pocket and 14 years of memories locked inside. As he walked off, for the last time, that is where those memories remained.