KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Brian Westbrook and his Philadelphia Eagles came to count on it like clockwork.
Every year during training camp with the Philadelphia Eagles, Andy Reid would give the team the night off on Aug. 8.
That’s Reid’s wedding anniversary, so he’d always take the night off for dinner with his wife of 40 years, Tammy.
“That’s a small thing, but now as a husband and a father, those small things are important, especially to your wives and especially to your relationships,” Westbrook said Tuesday in a Zoom interview with KSHB 41 News.
He couldn’t point to a favorite story about Reid, per se, ahead of the Chiefs’ showdown at noon Sunday in Philadelphia — where Reid led the Eagles to 140 total victories, five NFC Championship Game appearances and Super Bowl XXXIX from 1999 to 2012 — but instead focused on the impact he made beyond football.
“What I know of Andy Reid is just a man who is so loving,” Westbrook said. “He cares about his family. I just remember small things and I take them into my married life now. ... The great coaches are always coaching football, but, more importantly, they’re always coaching life at the same time. Andy Reid had that ability to do both, so I take small things like that from Coach Reid.”
When Reid was taken to the hospital after Sunday’s game, Westbrook fired off a text to check on the man he so admires as a mentor, leader and inspiration.
“In true Andy Reid fashion, he texted me immediately right back, said that he was OK,” Westbrook said.
Most of Reid’s former players view him as “almost as a father figure, a great friend, a mentor and we all support him in the same type of way,” Westbrook said.
Still, on Sunday, his loyalties remain with the Eagles, the team he spent eight of his nine NFL seasons with.
“No, I won’t have any mixed emotions,” Westbrook said. “I want the Eagles to win. I want Andy to do well, but I want the Eagles to win. It’s going to be a tough game and a tough task when you’re playing against such juggernauts, especially offensively. But yeah, I want Andy to do well, but I want the green and white to always win, of course.”
The Chiefs, who were tabbed AFC favorites before the season, have lost two straight, but many expect Sunday to be a chance to right the ship against the rebuilding Eagles — even Westbrook.
“They (the Chiefs) are a couple mistakes from being 3-0, but those mistakes repeated themselves in a couple games here,” Westbrook said. “That concerns me. ... But quite honestly, there may not be a better team to get right against offensively than the Philadelphia Eagles, and that hurts me to say that.”
The Eagles’ defense got carved up Monday by Dallas in a 41-21 loss and faces an even more potent offense with the Chiefs coming to town.
Westbrook marvels at Patrick Mahomes — “a quarterback who can make any throw in the world,” he said — and thinks he’s perfectly paired with Reid as a coach, Tyreek Hill at wide receiver and Travis Kelce at tight end.
“What we’ve seen over the years is Andy just become more and more creative, because he has super talent around to be able to take advantage of,” Westbrook said. “Listen, he was very creative in Philadelphia. We did a lot of things that, at the time, no one in the NFL was doing. Now, he’s taken it to a different level just because of the skill set of the guys that he has on the team.”
Westbrook, a two-time Pro Bowler and 2007 All-Pro, said Reid’s mastery of the game of football makes him unique as a coach and play-caller. He’s just as comfortable discussing the finer points of hand placement and footwork with linemen as he is breaking down proper technique for a wide receiver
“Then, he could come talk to any of the running backs and say, ‘As you get to the hole, it’s not about speed to the hole, it’s about the speed through the hole,’” Westbrook said. “He had the ability to coach every position on the football team. To me, that just continues to build credibility with your players.”
Still, it’s unquestionably Reid’s offensive ingenuity that sets him apart.
Westbrook’s only regret is that Reid’s Super Bowl breakthrough came in Kansas City rather than during their time together in Philadelphia from 2002-09.
“That’s my No. 1 thing, but any time that I see people I consider friends — and more importantly family, like I consider Coach Reid and his family — win and have the opportunity to get to Super Bowls and continuously be on top, it’s certainly meaningful to me,” Westbrook said.