AFC title game means reunion for Harbaugh, Reid

by The Associated Press

    In this Dec. 20, 2015, file photo, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and Chiefs head coach Andy Reid chat before a game in Baltimore. (Associated Press)

    OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- John Harbaugh once defeated his own brother in a Super Bowl, so going up against someone he used to work with may not be all that emotional.

    Still, there’s plenty of respect between the Baltimore coach and his counterpart this weekend: Kansas City’s Andy Reid.

    “Obviously, it’s a big deal in terms of the relationship,” Harbaugh said this week. “It goes back a long, long, long way. Utmost respect for Andy, utmost appreciation for what he’s accomplished as a coach. We were together for 10 years, the first 10 years there in Philly. We were in a lot of championship games, and a lot of playoff games.”

    They’ll face each other as head coaches for the first time in a playoff game when the Ravens host the Chiefs on Sunday. That’s somewhat remarkable given how successful they’ve been. This is Harbaugh’s fourth AFC Championship Game with Baltimore and Reid’s sixth in a row with Kansas City.

    Reid leads their head-to-head series 5-2 since he and Harbaugh went their separate ways during the former’s tenure at the helm of the Philadelphia Eagles.

    “John does a phenomenal job. He knows the whole game,” Reid said. “He was a great special teams coach, a great secondary coach and he’s been a great head coach. Very proud of him and all he’s done and accomplished.”

    Harbaugh was a special teams coordinator in 1998 for the Eagles under Ray Rhodes, then remained in that role for eight seasons after Reid took over the following season.


    “Ray Rhodes was great to be around for a year or two. If Ray’s out there listening, just thank you very much. I’m always appreciative of what I learned from Ray,” Harbaugh said. “Then Andy came in, I was hoping to stay, and he gave me an opportunity to do it. I was young and just figuring things out. That was good of him, and hope he’s glad he did, looking back on it.”

    Reid said he had known Harbaugh’s father, Jack, before keeping John on his staff in Philadelphia.

    “His dad was the best. He was real close with LaVell Edwards (at BYU). I did a thing at a hospital one time with them. I was a young coach, carrying Coach Edwards’ bag. And I got to know them, and we were like, the three coaches at this whole convention that showed up at the hospital,” Reid said. “We spent a couple of days together and it was great. I never forgot it. So when I met John, I was like, ‘If you’re half as good as your dad, you’re on.’ And he’s been that.”

    Harbaugh became a secondary coach for Philadelphia in 2007, then took over the Ravens the following season. He won a Super Bowl in his fifth season in Baltimore. The opponent in that game was San Francisco, then coached by his brother, Jim.

    Lately, Reid’s Chiefs have been the team to beat in the AFC. Their streak of six straight conference title games has been accompanied by two Super Bowl wins, one of which came last year.

    Reid also reached four NFC title games in a row in Philadelphia with Harbaugh on his staff.

    Aside from Harbaugh, Reid’s coaching tree includes another Super Bowl-winning head coach in Doug Pederson, as well as Sean McDermott of the Buffalo Bills, whom Kansas City defeated last weekend.

    “You think about all the great coaches that were on that staff that Andy assembled and mentored and taught us all so much,” Harbaugh said. “We were a close group of guys, a staff that loved each other. I see a lot of that on this (Ravens) staff, too.”

    Although it has been a while since he and Reid coached together, some of the lessons are easy to recall.

    “I tell this story a lot. One of the things with Andy, he had this three-by-five card behind his desk on his bulletin board. It just said, ‘Don’t judge,’” Harbaugh said. “I got the nerve to ask him about it one time, and he just basically (said) it’s kind of a biblical principle. Take people where they’re at. Assume the best. Try to communicate with everybody on equal terms. I’ve never forgot that.”

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