According to one of sports’ most celebrated maxims, coaches are hired to be fired.
The saying speaks to the disposability of coaches, but their firings are hardly the final word on their careers. Often, these frequent dismissals lead to better opportunities elsewhere, as seen by the coaching matchup in Super Bowl LVII.
Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid and his Philadelphia Eagles counterpart Nick Sirianni were both fired by the team they’ll be facing on Sunday in Glendale, Arizona.
It’s the first time in Super Bowl history where both coaches are facing their former employer, and while it may serve as added motivation, neither Reid, 64, nor Sirianni, 41, harbor any ill will towards the franchises that gave them their big break in the NFL.
Not even Sirianni, who was personally fired by Reid in 2013, looks back with regret.
Quarterback Matt Cassel #7 of the Kansas City Chiefs talks with QB coach Nick Sirianni in 2010
Sirianni gets soaked after the Eagles won the NFC Championship at the end of January
‘I didn’t coach with Andy but he gave me a good example of what do,’ Sirianni told reporters earlier this week.
At the time, the Chiefs were coming off a 2-14 season under Romeo Crennel, who was promptly replaced by Reid, the outgoing Eagles coach.
Sirianni had worked as the Chiefs receivers coach that season after previously serving as the team’s offensive quality control coach and assistant quarterbacks coach.
His resume had been limited before getting his big break in Kansas City in 2009: Sirianni spent a few seasons at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Division III Mount Union, the tiny Ohio powerhouse that produced Dom Capers and many other prominent coaches.
Unfortunately for Sirianni, his first taste of NFL football didn’t go particularly well. Years before the Chiefs would draft two-time MVP Patrick Mahomes, it was Matt Cassel leading the offense, which ranked 25, 12, 27 and 24 during Sirianni’s tenure in Kansas City.
So it wasn’t a surprise when Reid arrived with the intention of cleaning house.
Only instead of flippantly firing the coaches he inherited from Crennel’s regime, Reid took the time to speak with them individually, and that impressed the young Sirianni.
‘He was very complimentary,’ Sirianni said of the interaction with Reid in 2013. ‘He knew I would be down so he gave me strength when I was down. And I appreciated that. And it sounds like that’s who he is as a person and as a coach.’
A combination photograph shows Chiefs head coach Reid and Eagles head coach Sirianni
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (C) hands Reid (L) the Lamar Hunt Trophy after AFC win
Head coach Andy Reid of the then Washington Redskins watches the action during the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at the Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Redskins defeated the Eagles 17-14
Despite the disappointing results in Kansas City, Sirianni would be hired in San Diego in 2013, where he’d work under then-Chargers offensive coordinator Frank Reich.
‘Did I want to leave Kansas City? No,’ Sirianni told reporters
‘My future wife was from there, we were engaged at the time, she had a nice teaching job there, she had all her friends there, her mom and dad were a half-hour down the road. Of course, I didn’t want to leave there. But when I look at it, God’s always put me in great positions and guided my paths. I know I don’t say stuff like that all the time, but I know he has.’
Reich would later be hired as the head coach in Indianapolis, where Sirianni was hired as offensive coordinator in 2018.
‘I needed to go to San Diego to learn, to be at a different spot, to be out of a comfort zone, potentially, to meet Frank Reich,’ Sirianni added. ‘To separate there and then go be his coordinator in Indianapolis. Everything happens for a reason.’
Sirianni is now a head coach of an Eagles team that ranked third offensively in 2022 – something Philadelphia had accomplished only once since Reid was fired following a 4-12 season in 2012.
‘I had 14 great years there, I loved every minute of it,’ Reid told reporters Tuesday of his time in Philadelphia.
Meg Saligman paints a mural of an eagle attacking Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes with Chiefs head coach Andy Reid riding on its back in advance of Super Bowl LVI
Reid arrived in Philadelphia in 1999 after the firing of Ray Rhodes, with whom he previously worked in Green Bay.
He had spent six seasons with the Packers, where he served as an offensive assistant, coached Brett Favre, won a Super Bowl ring, and was frequently mistaken for mustached head coach, Mike Holmgren.
But in Philly, Reid made a name for himself, first with quarterback Donovan McNabb and later with Michael Vick. He would reach a Super Bowl with the latter in 2005, losing to the New England Patriots, and finished his tenure in Eastern Pennsylvania with a 224-130 record.
After going 5-11 in 1999, it was time for Reid to move on, but he didn’t blame the club for the decision.
‘It’s a great organization,’ he said. ‘I still am close with the people there. It was great to see the kids that we had drafted that are now these veteran players, All-Pro players on that team. I had a chance to give them a hug last night and now we go our separate ways and get ready to play.
Sirianni and Reid talk during pregame at Lincoln Financial Field in October 2021 in Philadelphia
The firing turned out to be a positive for both the Eagles and Reid. Philadelphia would win its first Super Bowl under Doug Pederson in 2018, while Reid would get his first the following season.
He’s also established Kansas City as one of the preeminent offensive franchises in NFL history.
The Chiefs ranked first in points and offensive yardage in 2022, which is the second time that Reid, Mahomes & Co. have accomplished the feat.
But for all of the good will heading into Sunday’s game, Sirianni admits he still thinks about his dismissal in Kansas City now and again.
‘Do you always have this little chip on your shoulder? Sure, yeah, you do,’ Sirianni said. ‘But that’s who I am as a coach and as a person — I want to make sure I’m working my butt off to get as good as I possibly can. And sure, you hold on to some of those things.’
Reid, though, refused to concede that he’s motivated by playing his former team.
‘Everything doesn’t last forever,’ Reid said Monday, as quoted by the Philadelphia Inquirer. ‘So, you know, we all had our time there.’
Sirianni’s Eagles team ranked third offensively in 2022 as it aims to win the ultimate prize