KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For a wine guy, Dick Vermeil never has been much on sour grapes. At one point Tuesday, the old Kansas City Chiefs coach grabbed the new one — Andy Reid — as if he were a teddy bear, grinning with every step.
“I’ve seen this practice before, in Philadelphia,” Vermeil said after the Chiefs concluded the first day of their final spring mini-camp inside the team’s indoor training complex. “But a very impressive football practice. Very, very impressive practice.
“(General manager) John Dorsey’s done a nice job with (the) talent here now, and Andy’s having a lot of fun. It’s just … he’s rejuvenated. You can tell. And I’ve been with him through all different moods over the last few years. And you’re very fortunate to have Andy Reid.”
The Chiefs are fortunate to have Vermeil, too, given the benefit of hindsight. In January, when chairman/CEO Clark Hunt was vetting candidates to replace the fired Romeo Crennel, he’d sounded out Vermeil, who’d made Kansas City his last coaching stop between 2001-05. Among Vermeil’s suggestions was Reid, who’d only recently been let go by the Eagles after 13 seasons in Philadelphia.
Before long, Reid was ringing him up, too, to ask about the vacant Chiefs gig.
“He called and asked me about Kansas City,” the old coach said. “I just said, ‘Go. Hey. Just go.’ … as you all know, Kansas City is a great place to live and a great place to work and coach. And there’s no better family to work for than the Hunt family was, for me.”
For Reid, that was good enough.
You know the rest.
“I’ve said this many times and I really believe it, (with) winning, there are reasons you win,” Vermeil allowed. “And Andy knows all the reasons. Knows the reasons you win, how you win, what you’ve got to do, and I think that he has the support staff here to help him do it. An there (are) some good football players here. Some real good football players. So they’ll just make ‘em better.
“He does the right things for the right reasons, the right way, with the right people at the right time. OK? He’s got all the rights.”
Reid and Vermeil are the only two coaches in Eagles history to lead Philly to a Super Bowl. The two developed a kinship — and friendship — over the past few decades or so; the retired coach settled outside greater Philadelphia after retiring from his position with the Chiefs and became a frequent visitor to Reid’s practices over the years.
“I never read it as the end (in Philly),” offered Vermeil, who was in town for a charity golf tournament. “I know they had some player problems, some injury problems, and some different things that didn’t go as well as he would like. But I never found myself critical of what was going on. I don’t criticize other people in the profession, because I know I’ve made more mistakes than those guys have.
“But … I think it was time. It was good for Andy to leave. And probably good for the Eagles. And it’ll be for the benefit of the Kansas City Chiefs.”
The open-door policy is a tradition both parties plan on extending, so long as schedules permit. The 76-year-old Vermeil is almost as active in retirement as he was on the sidelines, traveling much of the year to promote his new line of Vermeil Wines. The winery, based out of Calistoga, Calif., offers 15 different varieties through its web site.
“So he’s selling it like crazy,” Reid chortled. “Every time I talk to him, he’s in a different state. Must be good stuff. He grows it and harvests it. He does it all himself. So (it’s) something.”
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