|Andy Reid, at a fundraising event in April 2009
photo taken by me
An Open Letter to the Fans of the Kansas City Chiefs:
Getting a new boss, as you just did with the hiring of Andy Reid as your head coach, is tough.
There’s a lot to get used to when the new person arrives in town. They have a different playbook, a unique style – sometimes even their own people in mind for what was your job.
I’ve been in your shoes. Believe me, I know that the very last thing you probably want to hear are accolades about the new guy.
Granted, from a football perspective, Andy has a few faults. We’ve seen a few of them in Philadelphia. That tends to happen when a guy sticks around for 14 years. He’s not perfect.
But there’s something about him that makes Andy the perfect leader for the Chiefs right now.
You see, you’ve had some tragedy recently.
I speak, of course, about the domestic violence incident in December during which linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins, then subsequently killed himself. This murder-suicide brought the NFL to a standstill …but only for the requisite moment of silence.
The NFL already outfits itself in every conceivable shade of pink each October for breast cancer, which is certainly commendable. However, I submit that most of us are already well aware of breast cancer and the NFL’s recognition of this month is sometimes akin to elaborate end zone gyrations.
Although nothing will ever change the loss of life, the hiring of Andy Reid as your head coach gives every one of you connected with the Kansas City Chiefs – the owners, the players, the grounds crew – an opportunity to be leaders the NFL truly needs on the issue of domestic violence.
Why Andy Reid?
I was fortunate to get to know Andy and his wife Tammy when I worked as a fundraising director for a domestic violence agency in suburban Philadelphia. They became tireless, dedicated, loyal supporters of our organization; the more the Reids learned what we did and about the impact and prevalence of domestic abuse, the more they became involved.
During their 14 years in Philadelphia, Andy and his family worked so closely with our staff that I initially thought Tammy was on the payroll when I was first hired.
I know one of the criticisms of Andy during his Philly years was that he was disconnected from the fans. That always perplexed me because from where I stood, on the sidelines, I saw things differently.
I saw a Coach who readily hugged a woman whose husband once chained her to the bathroom sink for days, only to escape to safety in the morning rush of getting her kids to school.
I saw a Coach who signed an autograph for a scared, star-struck child who had moved into a shelter a week before.
I saw a Coach who was routinely maligned by the ruthless Philly media, but who had no trouble grabbing a microphone when bidding was low during a silent auction and reminding the well-heeled crowd why we were at the Gala in the first place.
I wish more Philadelphians had a chance to see this caring side of Andy.
Kansas City, I’m grateful that you now do.
In Philadelphia, Andy always concluded his opening statement to the press on Mondays by inviting questions from the assembled media with a two-word phrase:
So, Chiefs, now the time’s yours to pick up the ball on the domestic violence issue.
Run with it.
And be the real leaders on domestic violence that the NFL needs.