Cloaked behind the cautious, succinct, poker-face persona he offers the public and the media, the face you last saw on the sidelines for the Philadelphia Eagles and a face that now represents the latest incarnation of the Chiefs, Andy Reid tends to be a sharp, warm, fun and charismatic fellow.
Lots of people will tell you that, and you could experience it for yourself when he was the offensive-line coach at Mizzou under Bob Stull during 1989-91.
In addition to Reid having “all the elements” vital to being a head coach — including being bright and detail-obsessed — Stull mentioned Friday that includes the fact Reid is personable and witty and has a bit of a gift with people.
And that was all part of a certain “it” factor that a young Packers scout named John Dorsey sensed a year later when Reid joined the Packers as an assistant coach.
The personnel staff, Dorsey said, “played this game” of trying to predict future head coaches among the current assistants. Reid had that tattooed all over him.
“We all saw it,” said Dorsey, noting that his “mentor,” then-Packers general manager Ron Wolf, would later say his greatest mistake was not hiring Reid as head coach in 1999. “It was right here for us.
“But sometimes you’re blind to the things you’re closest to.”
Fourteen years later, the Chiefs had tunnel vision for Reid as the man to restore the once-proud franchise and soon thereafter hired Dorsey as general manager.
The energizing dynamic of his relationship with Dorsey is a fresh start for the organization.
Liberated from his ambitious personnel duties in Philadelphia, Reid is revitalized both by the new challenge and the chance to focus on what he loves most: coaching.
His resume stands for itself.
When he was hired in January, he brought instant credibility from Philadelphia with five NFC title games and 130 regular-season victories. But Reid’s time didn’t end well in Philly, as the Eagles went 4-12 in 2012.
And there’s no way to know yet how this will all play out here, where the Chiefs are coming off a miserable 2-14 season that was the final indignity of the Scott Pioli era.
But the intangible key to Reid’s overall success, the aspect of his coaching that arguably stands out even beyond his vaunted way with X’s and O’s, evidently has taken fast with his new team.
Ask a Chief, just about any Chief, about Reid, and you’ll hear various versions of largely the same strong sentiments.
“When he talks, guys listen,” kicker Ryan Succop said. “He knows how to connect with every guy on this team.”
That stems from Reid’s combination of credibility, ability to deliver crisp, clean messages when he speaks to the group and his reputation as a player’s coach.
It’s what comes from having what Dorsey calls “zero ego” and not one “phony” bone in his body and from what linebacker Derrick Johnson calls the ability to convey “what he wants” with “no gray area.”
It’s a manner of leadership that has been lacking here, a way that Reid radiates and doesn’t have to demand, the type that leaves reserve quarterback Chase Daniel saying, “You want to make him proud” without Reid needing to raise his voice.
“He’s our general,” said newly added wide receiver Chad Hall.
Hall has a more informed view of Reid than most. Hall played for Reid for two years in Philadelphia only to be cut by him. But he raves about Reid’s trustworthiness.
“He told me he’d help any way he could, and he did. He made some calls for me. He was on my side.” said Hall, who played for San Francisco last season. “It’s great to be reunited. I love him to death.”
That deep respect is shared through the entire spectrum of the roster.
“I’ve been here eight years and been through maybe four coaches,” linebacker Tamba Hali said. “All coaches are different. But the more experience you have, the more you’ve been in the league, the more players you’ve dealt with, you obviously know how to run a system.”
So Reid is not, and need not be, the wild man that Todd Haley was, for instance. He will not be overmatched by the job description, as Romeo Crennel seemed to be last year.
“Andy is in control,” Hali said. “The way he goes about this control is not like others. Other people want to make sure that you know they’re in control. So there’s a different style of control, but we still know who’s in control.”
Like Succop, left tackle Branden Albert was conscious of the fact that Reid “realizes he’s dealing with a bunch of men.”
“How can I say this? It’s unfamiliar to me. He’s straightforward,” Albert said. “That’s what I like about coach Reid. Straightforward. He doesn’t sugarcoat anything.”
Even if Reid keeps it all well-hidden from public view, that aura will be a key to his era.
“He has that presence,” said special-teams coordinator Dave Toub, who has known Reid since they were together at Texas-El Paso in 1988 under Stull. “You either have it or you don’t and I’m not sure you can learn it. But he’s got it.”