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Rocky’s World: The Zen teachings of Andy Reid

Life lessons from the big guy dressed in red who makes December special. No... not that one. The other one.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at San Francisco 49ers Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Through the annals of time, mankind has been graced with wise men and women who ascend above the everyday, bestowing nuggets of wisdom upon us that we can use to guide our lives.

One such luminary can often be found prowling the sidelines at Arrowhead Stadium — dressed in his trademark red pullover and matching hat, contemplating life’s most pressing issues — including:

  • What is the best bun to use for a cheeseburger?
  • Do you put the mustard on the bottom of the bun or the crown?

The sage to whom I am referring is better known as Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid.

Throughout the rough seas of an NFL season, no one keeps the ship steadier than Reid. Since his arrival in Kansas City, his wisdom and leadership are a large part of why the Chiefs have been consistently successful.

But can Reid’s teachings give us knowledge that can improve our daily lives? Let us find out by diving headlong into the Zen Proverbs of Andy Reid.

1. Be the calm in the storm

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“It was about settling down and calming the storm, no need to panic, just fix the problems.”

– Andy Reid

To be calm is the highest achievement of the self.

– Zen Proverb

The World Champion 2019 Chiefs trailed in every single postseason game they played — including Super Bowl LIV. Recalling each of their three epic comebacks evokes special memories in the hearts of every Chiefs fan. But none of it would have been possible without Reid’s leadership calming the waters.

We’ve all seen the highlights of Mahomes rallying the troops on the sidelines during these games — but one cannot forget the master who raised the young Jedi and taught him the ways of the Force.

I don’t think there is another coach in the NFL who would win those three games — not even Bill Belichick. Reid’s even-keeled leadership slows down the ride even when it feels like everything is spinning out of control, giving his players a moment to catch their breath and refocus.

It’s Raider Week. It would be easy for Reid to publicly feed into the Chiefs’ longtime rivalry with the Las Vegas Raiders — getting his players to froth at their mouths as they step onto the field on Sunday. But that’s not Reid’s style — and quite frankly, it’s not the best way to win games.

Once the initial buzz wears off, getting overhyped expends a lot of emotional energy — often leaving you drained and feeling flat. Instead, the Reid way is to step out over those white lines and simply execute your game plan. You can’t win the game with one play — but if you make enough of them, you walk away with a victory.

How do we apply this in our own lives?

Many times, life's problems seem so big and insurmountable that it feels like we will never be able to overcome them. So this is a good reminder to take a deep breath, step back and look at our problems with clear eyes — so we can see what can be done in this moment to bring us one step closer to our goal. If the Chiefs can wipe away a 24-point deficit against the Houston Texans in nine minutes and 55 seconds, then we can get through whatever it is that we are facing.

2. Be coy, but get the point across

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“They won the game, so they can do anything they want to do. That’s not our style.”

– Andy Reid

“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”

– Sun Tzu

We all remember the Raiders winning their Week 5 championship over Kansas City last year — and celebrating by driving their bus around Arrowhead Stadium. We are still waiting for the Raiders to hang their championship banner in Allegiant Stadium. It was an embarrassing display of tomfoolery by former head coach John Gruden and his team.

When news of their stunt reached the Chiefs players and coaching staff, they were understandably irritated. The following month — when the Chiefs were traveling to Las Vegas for the rematch — Reid was asked if it was harder to play a team a second time after you have already beat them.

Reid said he didn’t think it was any harder — and then added, “I think they do — or they wouldn’t have driven the bus around the stadium.”

In the second game, the Chiefs defeated the Raiders 35-31 — and went on to finish the year 14-2. Las Vegas, however, slid back into its hole of mediocrity — finishing the season 8-8.

Oddly enough, the Raiders are heading into Sunday’s game with a record of 6-6. It’s almost as if they are consistently a bad team or something.

How do we apply this in our own lives?

When somebody disrespects us to our face, our first reaction is often to lash out in anger. We want to meet their aggression with aggression — but as Reid has shown us time and time again, our attackers do not need our help. They will self-destruct all on their own.

In lfie, there are times when remaining quiet simply isn’t an option — and in these moments, a well-thought-out rebuttal speaks more loudly than screams or fists ever could.

3. Enjoy a good cheeseburger

Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag

I’m gonna go get the biggest cheeseburger you’ve ever seen – might be a double.”

– Andy Reid

“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

– Buddha

If I am ever lucky enough to be blessed with having a daughter, I am going to tell her to find someone who loves her as much as Reid loves cheeseburgers.

Big Red’s romance with the American classic is no secret. When he speaks about cheeseburgers, it’s like he’s preaching the gospel. For a man who is well-known for his clean living, this is the sole vice that he allows himself.

But it is a vice born of joy. For some, the expectation of being the cheeseburger guy might become a burden — but not for Reid. He relishes the opportunity to share his love with the world.

How do we apply this in our own lives?

When you find your passion in life, go for it. Sink your teeth into the entire experience. Some things need to be enjoyed in moderation — but you should still enjoy them fully. If you’re a bourbon drinker, then sip it slowly and let the flavors marinate on your tongue. If you’re into gardening, then sink your bare hands deep into the soil so you can feel the earth around them.

And if you’re a sportswriter, take a chance! Write weird articles about the Zen proverbs of your favorite head coach.

Life is too short to pass up on your own version of cheeseburgers.

Just look at Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. There’s nothing he loves more than throwing interceptions in December.

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