When the Kansas City Chiefs collected a 31-17 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday afternoon, it gave head coach Andy Reid his 125th win for the team. That passed original head coach Hank Stram for the most in Chiefs’ history — and when he claimed that honor, Reid also became the only coach in league history to have the most wins for two different franchises.
Reid is happy to admit that he admired the Chiefs’ Hall of Fame coach — and is humbled to be among his peers.
“I was a big Hank Stram fan,” explained Reid on Wednesday, “because of [former Chiefs running back] Mike Garrett, [who] grew up in that same area I grew up in. [I] followed his career at USC — and then when he came to the Chiefs, I became a Chiefs fan.
“I had watched Hank Stram. He was somebody I was familiar with — and [I] had a lot of respect for him. I mean, even to be listed in with his name there? It’s crazy.”
But to his players — like Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes — it doesn’t seem crazy at all.
“He knows how to win with a lot of different players,“ marveled Mahomes of his coach on Wednesday. “That speaks to the person that he is. You always have to build a different culture; you always have to adapt your team to the players that you have on your team. He’s done a great job of that — not only here, but in Philly and when he has an assistant coach all around the league and in college.”
The quarterback believes Reid’s success has also derived from his ability to relate to every player — regardless of background.
“In the NFL,” observed Mahomes, “you’re getting people from every culture and every environment. I think he does a great job of being able to be that father figure — or uncle or whatever you wanna call it. He can get the best out of you — no matter if you grew up with a lot of money or grew up with no money. No matter where you grew up, he knows how to relate to you and get the best out of you.”
It’s not hard to find proof of Mahomes’ assertion. The son of a major league baseball pitcher, the quarterback spent his childhood getting to know superstar athletes in MLB clubhouses. But another Chiefs player who comes from a much different environment — defensive tackle Chris Jones, who grew up in tiny Houston, Mississippi (population 3,600) — feels the same way about their head coach.
“He’s been amazing,” declared Jones of his experience playing for Reid. “He’s been — don’t kill me for this — like the white father in my life. He’s been very inspirational. His son Britt Reid is like a brother to me. His wife sparkles, you know — she’s like a mother to me, too. So for me, he’s been family.”
Jones says he’s made this connection “through the journey of life” with his coach — which has included moments that have been both serious and silly.
“It’s me coming in late, and we’re having those talks — those mature talks — or just having little five-minute conversations about life and getting a laugh out of it,” explained Jones. “I think those are small things in life [that] go a long way.”
As the expression goes, Reid came by his approach honestly. He began his NFL coaching career with the Green Bay Packers under head coach Mike Holmgren in 1992.
“This is corny,” recalled Reid of Holmgren, with whom he worked when both were coaching at Brigham Young University in 1982, “but he said, ‘I’ll promise you: I’m gonna hire you someday.’ And so he did; he was good on his promise.”
Reid said he was fortunate to begin his NFL career in Green Bay.
“It was a good opportunity,” he said. “I mean, I worked for Mike Holmgren for seven years, and I had a hard time believing anybody did it better — and I still feel that way. He was a great head football coach [and] a great offensive mind.”
But Holmgren also influenced the way Reid interacts with his players.
“I thought he managed the players well,” remembered Reid of his former Packers boss. “He was a good ‘people guy’ — [he had a] good feel for that.
Reid also credits longtime BYU head coach LaVell Edwards — for whom he played (and later worked) — with influencing his coaching style.
“He was a phenomenal guy with the players,” said Reid. “I mean, that was one of his great strengths. So I had a couple of examples there.”
And almost 40 years later, Reid is influencing yet another generation.
“[It’s] always remarkable to be able to play under Andy Reid,” said Jones. “Just his journey — what [he’s] been able to do at multiple organizations... It just tells you his commitment to this game of football — and how he’s such a pioneer in this league.”