George Hegamin. The name always creeps back into the consciousness every time the rationalization of Andy Reid being a “great coach” takes on a certain personal flavor.
The debate can rage on forever between Eagles fans who can’t stand the guy for reasons they understand and the rest of the nation who loves the guy for reasons they really don’t even know aside from that they seem to fit in nicely with classic clichés.
The facts are, Big Red is in his 14th season with Philly’s NFL franchise, has been in charge of the entire operation almost the word go, and can claim five NFC championship appearances and one Super Bowl showing. Color that pro or con or however you like, that’s the deal.
He’s accomplished some things, and not others.
Like him or loathe him, it’s all there in the record books.
But the sainthood slant most of his supporters seem to bequeath onto him in unabashed reverential fashion … it’s just never made sense – because of Hegamin. We get the “good” with Reid – family guy, religious man, giving, personable, players’ coach, smart. All of that is apparent. As is the tragedy he endured this summer when his oldest child died from a drug overdose.
But he’s a little selective on the personable, saving his best for those he can woo outside the Eagles’ realm, and with being a players’ coach.
Indeed, with Hegamin, Reid showed his hand there, and he did so within months of taking over as Eagles head coach in 1999.
A nondescript player who could have been labeled, depending on one’s perspective, overrated or an underachiever, Hegamin drew Reid’s ire by acting the petulant child after a demotion from first string. The offensive lineman left training camp, headed to his agent’s house … and was promptly told it might be a good idea to return.
He did, and Reid made an example of him – not to the team, but the media.
Huh? The crossed-wires thinking of that still boggles the mind.
Instead of having Hegamin own his “mistake” to those who mattered – the guys he went to battle with every day – the coach made a point to show outsiders that he rules with an iron fist.
Talk about a bully pulpit. By parading the big fella out to the practice field and having him drive the blocking sled, relentlessly, the length of the field for all who carried pens, paper, tape recorders, cameras and cared to notice, the coach took low to a new low. It was pointless and pathetic, a personal attack on an individual who was no threat to Reid.
It was a dog-and-pony show, a predetermined act to humiliate a player, to prove that he had the authority and the gumption to do so, to show he was that darn tough.
That’s not tough. That’s fake tough, and that’s exactly the kind of character he brought into the fold prior to the 2011 season with the hire of defensive line coach Jim Washburn. “Old school” in a way that not only should remain in the past, but retired for good now that he finally got canned following Sunday night’s defensive debacle in Dallas, Washburn created a divide in the locker room with his arrogance and ill-advised autonomous dedication to his beloved Wide 9 scheme … and Reid allowed it to happen, to fester, to build to the point where his own future with the franchise is in peril.
Bullies tend to bow down to fellow bullies, especially older ones with a saltier tongue. With reports surfacing that Washburn not only was insubordinate to Reid, but disrespectful to others within the organization, to the point he’d refer to former defensive coordinator Juan Castillo as “Juanita,” most wonder why Reid didn’t keep that door revolving as soon as Washburn walked through it. They shouldn’t. Castillo, a true-blue soldier under Reid’s reign, was cast aside first … because, well, it was easier. He’d take it like a man and actually be thankful for his time with Reid and the Eagles.
Washburn? Completely bereft of “team concept” beliefs, he threatened to quit after his prize recruit, defensive end Jason Babin, was dumped a week ago for his cancerous effect as much as his lack of production.
Now, as the end seems to near, his proponents continue to pitch that Reid should remain in charge until the end of the season, if only as a show of respect, the type of respect they believe he deserves.
Meanwhile, Reid himself keeps options open as to whom to blame next for his team’s current 3-9 state … after, of course, making his weekly hollow proclamation of “I take responsibility.”
Coach, you’re still in charge and you’re pointing the finger elsewhere.
That hand says you’re doing anything but taking responsibility.