It could’ve been the worst moment of Nick Sirianni’s life that day in early January, 2013.
After all, Andy Reid had just taken the Kansas City Chiefs’ head coaching job, one week after getting fired by the Eagles, and Reid’s first order of business was firing the previous staff. That included Sirianni, the 30-year-old who had just finished his first season as the Chiefs’ wide receivers coach.
But to know Sirianni is to know why he doesn’t hold a grudge towards Reid. In fact, Sirianni treats his dismissal as the exact opposite.
And here they are now, 10 years later, matching wits Sunday in the Super Bowl. Sirianni is in his second season as the Eagles’ head coach, going against Reid, the winningest coach in Eagles’ history during his 14 seasons, who’s now taking the the Chiefs to their third Super Bowl.
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“Andy came in because we weren’t good enough in Kansas City,” Sirianni said. “He stepped in and has done an unbelievable job.”
Not good enough is an understatement. The 2012 Chiefs were a disaster. They went 2-14, and had the lowest-scoring offense in the NFL. That season, linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend, then he drove to the Chiefs facility and killed himself.
Sirianni was 30 years old, in his first season as a position coach after serving the previous three seasons as a quality control coach. He knows he didn’t have a chance of being retained.
Especially not with Reid bringing veteran wide receivers coach David Culley with him to Kansas City. Culley had served in the same role for several seasons with the Eagles.
Still, Reid made it a point to meet with each coach on Romeo Crennel’s staff. That included Sirianni.
“What I appreciated is that he brought everybody in and talked to them,” Sirianni said. “He was very complimentary. He knew I would be down, so he gave me strength when I was down, and I appreciated that.
“That sounds like who he is as a person and as a coach.”
Reid said last week that he was just as impressed with Sirianni.
“I loved his personality,” Reid said. “He’s a guy that you can talk to and (he) communicates well. He’s got a fire to him that you appreciate, and the players appreciate. A personality is what I’m saying, a good personality. And he’s smart. I had a chance to talk to him, and he’s a smart kid.
“And I think he’s perfect for Philadelphia. That’s a tough place and he’s a tough kid, and he relates well to those people there.”
It sure didn’t seem that way at first. Sirianni appeared nervous and stumbled through first press conference upon being introduced as the Eagles’ new coach in January 2021.
That couldn’t have gone over well with established veterans such as center Jason Kelce, who was considering retirement after a disastrous 2020 season in which the Eagles went 4-11-1, fired head coach Doug Pederson while franchise quarterback Carson Wentz had asked to be traded.
But here’s how Sirianni won Kelce and the team back, as defensive end Brandon Graham explained:
“(Sirianni) was pissed about it,” Graham said about the press conference. “I love that because a lot of coaches wouldn’t admit to, sometimes, when the media gets under their skin. So he was cool, down to earth, cool, cool guy. He had a good rapport from a lot of guys that were with him (at previous jobs) that I talked to.
“That’s when he won me over, just coming in being real about how he feels. I know sometimes you can wear your emotions on your sleeve, which he does, but I think he does a good job of owning it and moving on.”
There have been plenty of examples of this in Sirianni’s two seasons as the Eagles’ coach.
Sirianni admitted to challenging prospective draftees in 2021 to games of “rock, paper, scissors.” He showed his players a picture of a flower pot growing roots in the ground after a 2-5 start. And more recently, he climbed up on the bench and yelled at Indianapolis Colts fans after a one-point Eagles win. That came just a week after the team had fired his mentor, Frank Reich, as head coach.
Sirianni owned all of it, something he learned from when Reid fired him 10 years earlier.
On the one hand, Sirianni was grateful for his time in Kansas City because he met his wife, Brett, during his four seasons there. On the other hand, Sirianni was suddenly unemployed and had to find another job. He landed with the Chargers, then in San Diego, but he had to start over as an offensive quality control coach.
“Do you always have this little chip on your shoulder? Sure,” Sirianni said. “But that’s who I am as a coach, as a person. I want to make sure that I’m working my butt off to get as good as I possibly can. And sure, you hold on to some of those things.
“And I really went through that, and I was like, ‘Hey, if I didn’t go through one of the worst experiences of my life, I know I wouldn’t be sitting here.'”
Sirianni did have a bit of payback. During that 2013 season, the Chargers beat Reid and the Chiefs 41-38. Sirianni said he was in the press box standing on the table, waving his arms and pumping his fists.
“I was just so emotional about it,” Sirianni said. “But as time goes on, and you mature, and you think about it, ‘Hey I needed to go through that, I needed to be in this situation.’
Gradually, Sirianni worked his way up through the Chargers’ organization before leaving in 2018 when Reich hired him as the offensive coordinator in Indianapolis. Then he got the Eagles’ job.
And here Sirianni is now, a head coach in the Super Bowl, thanks in part to Reid.
Contact Martin Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.