May 04, 2015
From the day he arrived here, Chip Kelly has been an engrossing puzzle of a man, one day a genius, the next day a fool. Who is this strange coach as he begins his third season with the Eagles?
Finally, we have some answers.
The NFL draft last weekend provided a clarity that Kelly had never offered previously, an insight that he would prefer we never had. But his ferocious pursuit of Marcus Mariota was something even his own paranoia couldn’t hide. The story was too big, the implications too great.
In the end, Kelly failed to move up 18 places in the draft to claim his quarterback from Oregon, but it was not for lack of effort. By all credible accounts, the coach offered a package including two first-round draft picks, a third, Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks and Brandon Boykin. The Tennessee Titans said no because, well, they’re the Tennessee Titans.
What happened after Kelly’s best efforts failed is the true lesson of last weekend. His denials, his wisecracks and then the rest of his draft selections all helped to form a much clearer picture of the coach.
At one point, Kelly rolled out a metaphor about shopping for homes. He said he did venture into the neighborhood where top draft picks like Mariota reside, found out what a house costs, and quickly retreated. If you believe that, then you also believe that just about every major national NFL reporter was trying his hand at fiction last week.
Ian Rapoport was the broadcaster who locked down the final package. He is not a blogger pounding computer keys in his mom’s basement. He works for the NFL Network, an arm of the very league that employs Kelly. Rapoport has broken hundreds of stories. And we’re supposed to believe he plucked those names out of the brisk Chicago air last weekend?
"[Chip Kelly] is a football lifer who lives to coach players willing to commit to him without challenge. Everything else is just a distraction to him, and that includes the media, the fans and even co-workers like ex-GM Howie Roseman."
Chip Kelly downplayed his effort to get Mariota to protect the psyches of the players listed above. We have always known that outside opinions don’t count to Kelly, and now we can see why. Because they interfere with the views that do matter, those of his players. Kelly will say or do anything to protect the covenant between coach and player.
The word he often uses is culture. How Kelly creates that atmosphere is now becoming more apparent. Mariota isn’t just a talented quarterback whose skill set coincides with Kelly’s offense; he is also obsessively prepared, committed to success and smart. Especially smart.
Those qualities forced Kelly to make an extraordinary offer to the Titans. They also led Nelson Agholor, Jordan Hicks and Eric Rowe to Philadelphia. Those three players, the team's top three draft picks, are now Eagles because they fit a prototype that emphasizes character and intelligence above everything else.
Two years into his tenure here, Kelly has no tolerance for selfish players like DeSean Jackson or lazy ones like LeSean McCoy. He has no patience for slow-minded ones like Nick Foles, or greedy ones like Evan Mathis. Players who do not buy into Kelly’s unique coaching program are buying their way right out of town.
So who is this man Chip Kelly? He is a football lifer who lives to coach players willing to commit to him without challenge. Everything else is just a distraction to him, and that includes the media, the fans and even co-workers like ex-GM Howie Roseman.
If you can’t help get Chip Kelly into the end zone, you are of no use to him.
Kelly’s myopic view of football does lead him to faulty conclusions from time to time, as it did last week when he accused talk-show hosts of making up trades because they didn’t have anything else to talk about.
I happen to be a talk-show host, and he is dead wrong. As long as Chip Kelly is around, we will never have that problem.
Andy Reid hates Chip Kelly.
Now, don’t hold your breath waiting for the most overrated coach in NFL history to reveal this fact because the truth has as much appeal to Reid as a carrot stick. But his disdain for the man who replaced him is undeniable.
"What Reid did was not just a breach of football etiquette. It was an act of treason against a city that supported him far more than he deserved."
Last week, Reid had the audacity to advise Tennessee coach Ken Whisenhunt to reject all offers for Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. That’s right. Reid stuck his bushy mustache right into the middle of trade talks between the Eagles and Titans. Don’t believe it? These are the exact words Whisenhunt said to Peter King of Sports Illustrated after the coach drafted Mariota:
“I was talking to Andy today. He told me the story about (Mike) Ditka offering a whole draft for his [Reid’s] pick (in 1999). I understood what Andy was saying. It certainly helped solidify what I was thinking, that’s for sure.”
Reid went on to reject New Orleans’ entire draft that year before selecting Donovan McNabb and winning zero championships in Philadelphia, and now he has decided to try to extend our 55-year title drought from his new home in Kansas City. Is there any other logical explanation for Reid, on the busiest day of the NFL year, to lobby against Kelly’s efforts to acquire Mariota?
And here’s a juicy theory to go along with Reid’s insult: He did it because he resents what Kelly has been doing to the people Reid left behind. DeSean Jackson was released after a Pro Bowl season. LeSean McCoy was traded after a historic run here. Nick Foles just got dumped, too. Hell, even ex-GM Howie Roseman was shoved out of the way.
Reid doesn’t like the way Kelly treated his boys, and he figured out a way to exact some revenge, with the aid of a fellow coach so ignorant he wasn’t even aware of the famous Ricky Williams draft deal 16 years ago. What Reid did was not just a breach of football etiquette. It was an act of treason against a city that supported him far more than he deserved.
Andy Reid was a fraud when he coached here, and he’s an even bigger phony now. He still can’t build a champion, still can’t manage the clock, still speaks like a robot. Yes, he won a moral victory against Kelly and Philadelphia last week, but – after another bad draft of his own – Reid will soon regret his petty actions. Bet on it.
Karma truly is a bitch.
It is hardly a surprise that boxing’s latest bid for a return to relevancy was a total disaster. For decades, the sport has been a victim of its own greed and stupidity. And yet, what happened on Saturday night was unimaginable, even by boxing’s pitifully low standards.
"The fight itself was an exercise in tedium. If you looked close enough, you could see both boxers tabulating the $100 million each was guaranteed while bobbing and dancing and avoiding danger."
Please understand, these words are written with a genuine sadness. I was a boxing writer in the 1980s, covered some of the biggest fights in that decade, spent quality time with Muhammad Ali and Marvin Hagler, and had blood splattered on me while seated ringside more than once. I was a fan of the sweet science.
But I am no fan of the scam perpetrated on the American public last Saturday night. Swept up in the hype of the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao extravaganza, millions of fans spent an unprecedented $100 for the pay-per-view broadcast. And they all got robbed.
First of all, the event didn’t actually start until 11:58 p.m. EDT, two minutes before midnight. Boxing had its most accessible event in many years, and it found a way to make it far less accessible to the most densely populated part of the country. Brilliant.
The fight itself was an exercise in tedium. If you looked close enough, you could see both boxers tabulating the $100 million each was guaranteed while bobbing and dancing and avoiding danger. There were no knockdowns, no wow moments, nothing.
After the fight, of course, there was the requisite controversy over Pacquaio’s injured shoulder and whether he should have been allowed to take an anti-inflammatory shot. Only a fool cannot see this for what it is – a shameless attempt to set up a rematch, another chance to steal more money.
Floyd Mayweather’s unanimous decision was not the only thing upon which everyone can now agree. The event was a form of consumer fraud, a product hyped for months that delivered on none of its promises.
Boxing came back to life just long enough to rip off the public one more time.
• Add Cole Hamels to the list of Phillies who stayed here past their expiration date. The ace pitcher’s declining effectiveness is seriously hurting his trade value. Can we blame GM Ruben Amaro Jr. for waiting too long on another 2008 hero, or are the Phils going to call this an organizational mistake, too?
• Roger Goodell had months to prepare for the draft, and the NFL commissioner couldn’t pronounce the name of the most-talked-about player, Marcus Mariota? Goodell must really be busy still trying to figure out if the New England Patriots deflated those footballs in the playoffs last season.
• The most ridiculous story in a season of foolishness was the hype two months ago over Nerlens Noel’s bid for NBA rookie of the year. Many of the robots covering the Sixers actually tried to make the case for Noel, who finished a very distant third in the balloting last week. Do these Sam Hinkie bootlickers have no shame?
• The Baltimore Orioles played a game last week with no fans allowed at Camden Yards because of racial unrest in the streets outside the ballpark. Aside from the profound social lessons, what we learned that day is that a sports event has no meaning without fans there to enjoy it.
• Asked to assess the debut of pitcher Severino Gonzalez last week, Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg actually said: “He got the ball and threw it.” As a longtime Charlie Manual basher, it pains me to say this. Every time Sandberg speaks, I miss good old Uncle Charlie a little bit more.