By Stephanie Edwards
“My challenge was, how could I be the same guy at work as I was at home.” Kansas City Chief’s Head Coach Andy Reid posed that question to himself early in his career. Reid and his wife, Tammy, spoke candidly to a crowd gathered in the chapel at the LDS Stake Center, Lee’s Summit, during an event sponsored by the Kansas City Chapter of the Brigham Young University Alumni Chapter.
Growing up in Los Angeles in the shadow of the Dodgers Stadium, Coach Reid is a self-described “sports nut.” Since his playing days at BYU, his professional life has been dedicated to the game. The sport of football has been a constant in their lives, but the game has only been a part of the story. Throughout their journey, their faith as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints served as the guide along the way.
“I did not grow up as a member of the Church,” Reid told the crowd. He was recruited by the University to play football while he attended junior college. The school impressed him upon his first visit with his parents. “What I saw was a pure environment to maximize my talents,” he said. Reid enjoyed his time at the school, and while he attended the required religion classes at the school, he said he did not feel pressure to join the religion. In fact, he took a long time to look into the tenets of the faith before he finally joined.
During his time at BYU, Reid made lasting friendships that shaped his life, including the relationship with his former coach and mentor LaVell Edwards, and a special young woman. “I had a chance to meet this real cute girl, and she was awesome,” he said. The girl amazed him with her love of Domino’s Pizza, and her ability to eat it. “I’m amazed,” he said, smiling. “I’m going, ‘I’m going to marry her!’” Marry her he did, and together Reid and his wife Tammy raised five children, three sons and two daughters, as they followed his career from college level coaching jobs into the NFL when he was hired by Green Bay. “It’s been quite a journey,” Reid said.
“I asked myself, ‘how would I handle this,’” he said when he moved into the professional football sphere. Upon accepting the job at Green Bay, he became the second-youngest fulltime assistant in the league, placing him in the position of coaching players who were not much younger than he was. “I found respect. I love digging in and learning about the players,” he said.
After Green Bay, Reid took a job in Philadelphia. Again, he found himself in the position of second youngest in the league, this time as head coach. Once again, he asked himself how he was going to be the same man he was at home at work, given the glitz and glamour of the game. “My family humbled me,” he said. “We grew as a family. It was awesome. Everyone came together.”
As a family, the fourteen years spent in Philadelphia brought growth, and unthinkable tragedy. The couple’s oldest son, Garrett, passed away unexpectedly at the age of 29. “We were able to show people strength in Philadelphia, strength in our faith with tragedy,” he said.
The family’s next move was to Kansas City, and once again the challenge to himself to be the same man at home is exhibited in the family atmosphere he brought along with him. A big believer in humble pride, Reid displays signs throughout the organization.
Along with his passion for the game, Reid’s love for players and others is on display for the world to see. Within the Chief’s organization, Reid is a big believer in “humble pride,” and displays it in what he refers to as “corny signs” that serve as deliberate reminders of who they are. Some of those signs read, “We are the Chiefs,” and “We enter as teammates; we leave as family,” and greet the players and the staff each day.
“We’re going to do what’s right. We’re going to choose the right,” he said. “We’re going to love the people around us. We don’t care who you are. We’re going to love you; that’s how we roll.”
While he still coached in Philadelphia, Reid put his own values into action when he came across a young man trying to make his way back from the bottom of the heap, back from prison and into the game he loved. Reid described sitting in his office after signing Michael Vick, who went to prison for dog fighting. “I ended up picking him up,” he said, and told him he was going to give him another shot. Vick worked hard, he said, and found his way back.
Working with Vick inspired the coach to ask himself, “What can I tell him?” Forcing religion on anyone has never been his practice, but the coach turned his mind to Christ, and what how he would do. Reid asked himself what Christ would say in layman’s terms inspire the team, and he came up with four placards that hung in the locker room. They read: “Eliminate distraction. Create energy. Fear nothing. Attack everything.”
Regardless of the team jersey, Reid has lived by example, and found the answer to the question he challenged himself with along the way. “If we live our faith and respect those around us, people will listen,” he said. “You don’t have to say a lot. Example is a big thing.”