KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Few NFL coaches have a history tree with more branches than Andy Reid, with 10 former assistants under the Chiefs coach going on to NFL head coaching jobs of their own, including the coach on the opposing sideline, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh.
“I think he's got to be the best probably there ever has been in terms of mentoring coaches to become head coaches,” said Harbaugh, who spent nine seasons on Reid's coaching staff in Philadelphia.
Former Eagles coach Ray Rhodes hired Harbaugh as special teams coordinator in 1998. Rhodes and Reid worked together in Green Bay, and Rhodes recommended keeping Harbaugh. Reid knew Harbaugh's father Jack, a former college head coach.
“And so, with all those things, I found out for myself that he’s a phenomenal coach,” Reid said. “I have a ton of respect for him.”
Harbaugh believes Reid's success as both a coach and a mentor starts with his sense of self. Reid works tirelessly, but has convictions in his philosophy, whether it's his personal beliefs or his coaching mantra.
“He's great at what he does, he's got a unique style and he doesn't try to be anything or do anything that's not perfectly tuned into who he is and what he believes,” Harbaugh said.
Last year Reid praised quarterback Alex Smith for mentoring Patrick Mahomes by showing him the ropes and teaching him everything he knew. He said Smith didn't hold anything back, instead sharing as much wisdom as he could with with the young quarterback.
Perhaps Smith picked that up to Reid, who did same thing with Harbaugh when they started working together nearly 20 years ago.
“He's not afraid to share them with you, why he does things or how he does things or what his thinking is,” Harbaugh said.
Teaching, whether it's players or coaches, is what keeps Reid in the game. Harbaugh recalls Reid keeping a card on his desk that reads, “Don't Judge.” Reid said he still keeps that card on his desk as a reminder.
"Are you going to sit there and judge, or are you going to teach?” Reid explained. “I want to teach, and so that’s what I feel like I’m here for, is to do that. And then, whatever player is given to me, I’m going to try to do that to the best of my ability and not get caught up in all the nonsense of judging.”
That more than anything may explain why former assistants such as Harbaugh have achieved such great success as head coach