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Vahe Gregorian: A vow from Mike Holmgren launched Chiefs coach Andy Reid from Missouri to top of NFL

Vahe Gregorian, The Kansas City Star on

Published in Football

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As a senior at Brigham Young in 1980, Andy Reid was considering a career as a sportswriter. If he had gone on that way and, say, later covered the Chiefs, he told me in 2017, “They’d be fun articles to read. You’d look forward to reading them. They’d be colorful.”

But fate had something else in mind after BYU coach LaVell Edwards urged him to try coaching as a graduate assistant. Reid reported to then-BYU assistant coach Mike Holmgren, who over the span of one season became taken with Reid’s intelligence, personality and trustworthiness — and came to see him as “the son I never had.”

“That’s where I first noticed what he was kind of made of and how he did things,” Holmgren said in a 2020 phone interview. “And I told him at the time, ‘If I ever get a chance to be a head coach anywhere, I’m phoning you first.’ We kind of laughed about those things.”

But he was serious. Days after he became the head coach of the Green Bay Packers a decade later, Holmgren made good on those words and subtly set in motion one of the most prosperous coaching careers in NFL history.

Reid’s burgeoning place in the game was further distinguished last week when he surpassed Hank Stram for most regular-season wins in Chiefs history (125), thus making him the first NFL coach to have the most wins for two franchises (130 with the Eagles).

Given that it’s his nature to cast light on others, Reid was at a loss for words when chairman and CEO Clark Hunt made those points in presenting “our special head coach” the game ball after the 31-17 win in Las Vegas on Sunday.

 

“Even to be listed with (Stram’s) name there,” Reid said Wednesday, shaking his head in apparent disbelief, “is crazy.”

All the more so when you consider the twists that made it possible.

At the time of Holmgren’s call, Reid was approaching his 34th birthday and coaching the offensive line at Mizzou — his fourth full-time collegiate coaching job starting with the one Holmgren helped him get at San Francisco State.

Close with so many on Bob Stull’s staff and Missouri players (to this day) and believing MU was soon to turn the corner, Reid was hesitant to leave for the job as an assistant line and tight ends coach with the Packers.

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