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Andy Reid: Crossed fingers that Chiefs owner Clark Hunt would hire him

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Andy Reid Andy Reid
Clark Hunt Clark Hunt
© Associated Press © Associated Press
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Andy Reid, the new head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, said Monday he is already working to assemble his staff and decide on the next quarterback for the Chiefs.

He also is looking forward to Sundays at Arrowhead Stadium and the roar of Chiefs fans.

"There is nothing like the sea of red. I had an opportunity to play here and play against the Chiefs, and it is tough," Reid said. "It is a great environment."

Reid said he was excited by the opportunity. He said "certain families stand out," and that the Hunt family is "phenomenal."

He said he was looking for the "next Len Dawson" as quarterback. He said it would take time to decide who that would be.

Reid said he's already started to dig into the current Chiefs roster - he had already watched video of all 16 games last season. And he said he's buoyed by the fact that the Chiefs have five players who were voted to the Pro Bowl, and they'll have the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft for the first time in franchise history.

"There are some good football players on this team. I look to add to that, I think that's important," he said. "We can all get better - me included. This quarterback position, I will dig in and we will build it. We will see how that works out, we need to spend some time on that. I need to find the next Len Dawson. It might be right here, it might not. I have to dig in, and I need a little time on that."

Reid, the longest tenured coach in the NFL with one team, had just addressed his players in Philadelphia on New Year's Eve Day after he had lost his job. He returned to his office and the telephone rang.

It was Chiefs owner Clark Hunt wanting to meet with him. Hunt had just fired his head coach, Romeo Crennel. He had said he wanted a proven leader who had built a successful program, a communicator, teacher, a hard worker and a man of integrity who held himself and those around him accountable.

"What I didn't know when I laid out those criteria last week that I was effectively describing Andy Reid," Hunt said. "Naturally, I was pleased to find someone who matched what I was looking for."

Hunt and Reid agreed to meet for three hours on Wednesday after Hunt and his interview team had traveled to Atlanta on Tuesday to interview two coaches with the Falcons.

That three-hour interview at a Philadelphia airport turned into nine hours and two men knowing they had found the right fit. Reid said the interview could have lasted even longer.

"There was a certain energy that started with Clark and radiated with the people that I had a chance to meet," Reid said. "As we talked, you got this feeling that this is the right thing to do. It made the decision easy. I crossed my fingers hoping that I would be offered the job, and I was."

Hunt said he canceled plans to interview other candidates. And Reid canceled plans to travel to Arizona and possibly San Diego to interview for their openings.

Hunt said Monday Reid is a proven winner.

"I was even more excited once I spent time with Andy and got to know him as a person. He is warm and engaging, down to earth and we hit it off right away," Hunt said. "It was fun to talk football with him. He is intelligent, receptive and you can tell that he has been around the game a long time. He is also humble, honest and appreciative of the opportunity to be a head coach in the National Football League."

Hunt also singled out Reid's wife, Tammy, in his prepared remarks, saying she would be "an outstanding addition to our Chiefs family and an engaged member of the Kansas City community."

Tammy Reid wanted to come to Kansas City and see the city. Reid wanted to see the Chiefs facilities. Once that occurred Friday with television helicopters recording Hunt's private plane landing after arriving from Philadelphia, the two men reached an accord.

"By the end of the day, it was apparent that it was a perfect match and we were able to get the deal done," Hunt said.

Reid and Hunt signed a five-year contract last week that gives Reid much control over the football operations. Hunt is expected to soon hire someone close to Reid as general manager.

Among the candidates for the job are former Browns general manager Tom Heckert and longtime Packers personnel man John Dorsey, both of whom have a history with Reid.

Dorsey reportedly interviewed with the Chiefs on Monday and media reports indicate that the interview went well.

Reid said he would be part of the general manager interview process, but he said the final decision would be by the Chiefs owner.

Before Reid was officially hired, Hunt on Friday morning officially parted ways with general manager Scott Pioli. Both Crennel and Pioli had to go after a 2-14 season that ended with the Chiefs getting the top pick in the NFL draft and many fans openly calling for Pioli and Crennel's ouster.

And statements made by both Hunt and Reid Monday indicated that Pioli's departure was coming well before Reid accepted the job last Friday afternoon.

"Scott and I are friends, but that was taken care of before me and worked out between Scott and Clark," Reid said when asked if he told Hunt that he didn't want to work with Pioli.

And Reid told the Kansas City Star that it took Pioli some time to realize it was best to leave the team.

Scott and I had a lot of conversations going back into the season about his future," Hunt told the newspaper, "And we continued to have those discussions while we were going through the interview process. He finally got to the same point Andy was at Philadelphia, just realizing that a fresh start would be best for him and for the Kansas City Chiefs. Once we got there, it was time to go in different directions."

Reid and wife Tammy have sons Spencer and Britt and daughters Drew Ann and Crosby. Their son, Garrett, died last August at the Eagles training camp from an accidental heroin overdose.

During the news conference Monday, Reid was asked if he considering taking a season off to deal emotionally with all the recent upheaval in his life emotionally and professionally. Hunt even asked him about it last Wednesday.

"I'm ready to go now," Reid said. "This is what I do so I'm ready to go. I never took that into consideration."

During an interview with KCTV5's Brad Fanning, Reid said that his son would expect him to continue coaching and be disappointed in him if he didn't. He said coaching is what he loves to do and his son knew that.

He spoke fondly of his days in Philadelphia, but took responsibility for the recent struggles.

"Sometimes change is good," said Reid, who coached the Eagles to a 4-12 record this season, dragging down his career record of 130-93-1. "It could be tremendous for the Philadelphia Eagles, and at the same time, I think it's going to be tremendous for the Kansas City Chiefs."

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a statement about the Reid hire.

"I am a huge fan of coach Reid," Goodell said. "He is a person I have tremendous respect for as a coach and family man. Andy has been very helpful to me as commissioner. He has tremendous insight into our game, and we are fortunate to have him in the NFL."

Reid joined the Philadelphia Eagles as their head coach in January 1999 after spending seven seasons as an assistant coach with the Green Bay Packers.  While Packers quarterbacks coach, he worked with future Hall of Famer Brett Favre. While at the Eagles, he drafted Donovan McNabb.

Before joining the NFL, Reid coached the offensive line from 1989 through 1991 at the University of Missouri. He played college football at Brigham Young University where he was a tackle and a guard from 1979 to 1981.

Hiring a new general manager will be done "as soon as we can," Hunt said. He said he believes Reid's hiring will help attract assistant coaches and general manager candidates.

And Hunt is just glad to have his and the Chiefs' annus horribilis -(horrible year in Latin) over and done with.

"It was a very hard year on all of us, my family, the fans, and the organization both on and off the field," Hunt said. "When you're not successful in the National Football League, it is certainty that change is coming. I'm glad 2012 is in the rear-view mirror at this point and that we are off to 2013. In Andy, we already have our first victory."

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