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Andy Reid looks back, but not for long

8/12/2008

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

BETHLEHEM -- Andy Reid has built a pretty impressive resumé over the past decade with the Eagles, but don't expect him to spend much time in reflection. On this gorgeous morning on the South mountain of the Lehigh University campus (66 degrees), Reid has ducked under a comically small white tent, which is appointed with two chairs listed in questionable condition.

I've been informed by local reporters that Reid will make quick work of me, but on this morning, he seems almost chatty by his standards. I was caught off guard when he started asking about my college background, but I quickly realized he was in full penalty-kill mode.

Asked if he'd stopped to take account of his 10 years as head coach of the Eagles, Reid said, "It's a question that I hadn't thought about until I got up here and everyone started asking me about it."

Oops.

Reid said he didn't mind reflecting on the past, but indicated he was much more comfortable in the present. With veterans such as Jon Runyan, Tra Thomas, Brian Dawkins and Donovan McNabb on the wrong side of 30, I wondered if he felt any more sense of urgency than usual.

"Every year there's a sense of urgency," he said. "I don't think it can get any higher. We spend so much time at this, and every coach wants to win the Super Bowl. If we can get the right chemistry, we could be within striking distance."

Last year at this time, Reid was trying to balance his coaching duties with a very public family situation involving his two sons. One local columnist even suggested that Reid should've skipped a preseason game to be with one of his sons during a court appearance, but that was never an option for him.

"When you're in the middle of it, you still have to get things done," he said.

Reid has always been intrigued by the psychological side of sports, and he said he talked to some of his psychiatrist friends about what his sons were going through.

"The problem is they're all Eagles fans, so they wanted to talk about football," he joked.

I asked him if what he went through with his sons last year helped prepare him for dealing with the Shawn Andrews situation. The Pro Bowl guard has acknowledged that he's struggling with clinical depression, and though this didn't come from Reid, I've been told that the head coach has spent a significant amount of time trying to get help for Andrews.

"Not that I'm an expert, but certain players have gone through that," he said. "They're all human beings first. You have to put football aside. That's no different than what I do with my family."

He said the fact that owner Jeffrey Lurie and team president Joe Banner have "strong family values" helped the situation immensely.

Reid also acknowledged that he and quarterback Donovan McNabb will always be tied together. He admires everything about McNabb, and on this day, he sounded as if he could talk about him for hours.

"Playing quarterback in the NFL is not an easy thing," he said. "It takes a lot of courage to do what he did last season. You've seen it from Carson Palmer, too. Donovan attacked the injury issue and never ran from it. He pushed through and you saw what he did in the last three games of the season (all Eagles wins). He was just phenomenal in the offseason."

Reid and McNabb haven't always been on the same page -- the Kevin Kolb pick didn't sit well at first -- but they seem to have a deep respect for each other. Reid's not the best quote in the business, but he can't hide his passion for the quarterback position.

"Donovan's been evaluated as aggressively as possible," he said. "You have to be wired right, and he's been wonderful through it all. One percent of fans are the ones who stir things up. I would say 99 percent of them love and respect Donovan. I think it's a tribute to him as a person that he can remain positive and upbeat throughout all the highs and lows."

Reid is also excited about his second-string quarterback, Kolb. On the first day of camp, he said Kolb was putting too much pressure on himself in his new role as McNabb's backup. But after about three days, he played his way through it and has had a strong camp.

"He has high expectations for himself, and that's a great thing," Reid said. "When he was struggling, he found a way to fight through it."

Reid and Dolphins Vice President of Football Operations Bill Parcells love to talk about quarterbacks during the offseason. Reid was torn between Dolphins quarterback John Beck and Kevin Kolb two years ago, in part, because Beck played at Reid's alma mater, BYU.

Reid admires Parcells because of his loyalty to players. He was one of the few people not surprised when the Dolphins invited former Cowboys quarterback Quincy Carter for a recent workout.

Back to the McNabb topic (his favorite on this day), Reid said he didn't mind at all that his quarterback was calling the Eagles the best team in the NFC.

"I'm OK with it because he'll back it up," Reid said. "And the guys will rally around him.

I'll come back with more Reid at a later date, but some of you will be interested in what he said about rookie receiver DeSean Jackson. Reid said he looked over at Jackson before the first preseason game against the Steelers and he was "as loose as he could be."

It was funny to hear Reid talk about how he liked the fact that Jackson was enjoying some music before the game.

"I knew the game wasn't going to be too big for him," Reid said.

OK, I have to make the drive to Albany now for the Giants' afternoon practice. Special thanks to the folks at Deja Brew in Bethlehem, Pa., for letting me turn their coffee shop into my office for two days. I even used their landline to talk to Hannah Storm and Robert Flores on SportsCenter this morning.

Oh, and I'd never want you to interpret that last comment as self-promotion! See you guys in Albany.