Chiefs' Reid grades low on dance moves, high on personality
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Andy Reid encourages his players to express their personality, and that's something of a rarity in the buttoned-down, corporate world that the NFL has become.
Nobody anticipated the way Reid would heed his own advice.
When the Chiefs coach sauntered into the locker room after last Sunday's win over Cleveland, which locked Kansas City in the playoffs when Pittsburgh lost, the rotund Reid raised a riot of laughter when he whipped out a rather rudimentary version of ''the dab.''
''I didn't expect that,'' Chiefs linebacker Dee Ford admitted with a smile.
Asked where he learned the dance, which originated with the Atlanta hip-hop scene but has been adopted by everyone from Cam Newton to LeBron James, Reid replied: ''It just comes natural.''
It was a moment of levity after a pressure-packed game, but also demonstrative of the culture change that occurred in Kansas City when Reid and general manager John Dorsey were hired.
The environment had grown toxic under former coach Todd Haley and general manager Scott Pioli, with players afraid to be themselves. The result was a pervasive feeling of dread that hung over the practice facility like a dark cloud, a big reason why the Chiefs struggled for wins.
Reid recognized the feeling almost immediately. And he quickly set about changing it.
He may be bland in interviews, and the rote way in which he begins press conferences - ''We're looking forward to the challenge of playing (insert team here)'' - has become tiresome. But behind the wishy-washy facade is someone comfortable in his own skin, who encourages others to be the same, and who's willing to bust a move when he thinks nobody else is looking.
''I try to shoot everybody as straight as I can shoot them. Try to treat them the same way you want to be treated,'' Reid explained. ''I try to keep it at that. That's about it.''
Sounds simple in theory. It's far more difficult in practice.
Just ask his replacement in Philadelphia, Chip Kelly, whose firing this week was accompanied by numerous stories of his inability to relate to players. Offensive tackle Lane Johnson called Kelly ''unapproachable,'' and former Eagles running back LeSean McCoy and cornerback Brandon Boykin harshly criticized not only Kelly's relationship with players, but his approach to running the team.
Eagles CEO Jeffrey Lurie even indicated it was a factor in the firing, saying in part, ''You've got to open your heart to players and everybody if you want to achieve peak performance.''
Reid declined to discuss the turnover in Philadelphia, where he spent 14 seasons before getting let go in 2012. All he said was, ''I wish both sides well.''
Still, Reid is preparing his team for the playoffs. Kelly is looking for a job.
How they relate to players may have at least something to do with it.
''It's kind of a running gag in the whole locker room, to have different guys popping the dab move,''' Chiefs offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif said of Reid's post-game celebration.
''It just shows that coach Reid is a very serious coach and a professional coach,'' Duvernay-Tardif said, ''but at the same time, he has that little enthusiasm like us when we're winning.''
There has been a whole lot of enthusiasm lately. The Chiefs have followed a 1-5 start with a franchise record-tying nine game win streak, and could win an improbable AFC West title if they beat Oakland and Denver loses to San Diego in a game that will happen simultaneously.
Just imagine the moves Reid would unleash if that were to happen.
''Those are special times, after wins, especially the later-in-the-season wins, and that win to clinch the playoffs,'' Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith said. ''It's hard to express what that's like, and that feeling as a team and all of us in there, that joy. And coach has a lot of fun with it, and I think that's part of it. You've got to be able to enjoy a win.''
NOTES: WR DeAnthony Thomas was placed on the reserve-non-football injury list. He had been sidelined for personal reasons, the team said. ... S Husain Abdullah (concussion) returned to practice Thursday. He has missed the last four games. ... LBs Tamba Hali (broken finger) and Justin Houston (hyperextended knee) remained out of practice.
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