Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has transformed the team from whipping boys into an NFL dynasty

Las Vegas (AFP) - When Andy Reid turned up at the Kansas City Chiefs in early 2013, he found a franchise mired in failure and reeling from recent tragedy.

The Missouri team had finished bottom of the AFC West standings in 2012 with a dismal 2-14 record, and had failed to make the playoffs in five of the previous six seasons.

Worse, the organisation was still in shock from the horrific murder-suicide of Kansas City linebacker Jovan Belcher.

Just over a month before Reid’s appointment, Belcher gunned down his girlfriend before driving to the Chiefs’ training facility and fatally shooting himself in front of manager Scott Pioli and Romeo Crennel.

Reid, hired by the Chiefs just four days after being sacked by the Philadelphia Eagles, was grappling with his own traumas, both professional and personal.

In August of 2012, his eldest son Garrett, who had struggled with drug addiction for years, died from an overdose at an Eagles pre-season training camp.

Reid’s arrival at Kansas City, however, was to be a watershed moment for the franchise, the spark of a transformation which could see the team win a third Super Bowl in five seasons when the Chiefs take on the San Francisco 49ers in Las Vegas on Sunday.

The jovial, 65-year-old cheesburger-munching, Hawaiian shirt-wearing head coach has turned a club in crisis into an NFL powerhouse, a dynasty now being mentioned in the same breath as Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots.

The stats speak for themselves. In 11 seasons under Reid, the Chiefs have only once missed out on the playoffs, winning eight AFC West divisional titles in a row from 2016 to 2023.

- ‘Steve Jobs of NFL’ -

Patrick Mahomes (right) hugs Kansas City head coach Andy Reid after their 2020 Super Bowl win

Since landing generational quarterback talent Patrick Mahomes with the 10th pick of the NFL Draft in 2017, the Chiefs have made four trips to the Super Bowl, with victories in 2020 and 2023 sandwiching a defeat in 2021.

A third title on Sunday would cement Reid’s status as one of the greatest coaches in NFL history, adored by players and fans alike.

“In the NFL, you’re getting people from every culture and every environment,” Mahomes said.

“He does a great job of being able to be that father figure — or uncle or whatever you wanna call it. He can get the best out of you — no matter if you grew up with a lot of money or grew up with no money.

“No matter where you grew up, he knows how to relate to you and get the best out of you.”

An innovative thinker renowned for developing dynamic, free-scoring offenses, a recent New York Times profile described Reid as the NFL’s equivalent to Steve Jobs, the visionary co-founder of Apple.

“He’s a designer, a tinkerer, a product engineer who imbues his football with creativity and even an occasional touch of whimsy,” the Times wrote.

Reid’s man-management style leans heavily into compassion. In Philadelphia, he offered Michael Vick a route back into the sport after he’d served prison time for involvement in a dog-fighting ring.

Tight end Travis Kelce was drafted in 2013 despite a suspension for marijuana use in college that deterred other suitors.

Yet paradoxically, while loved as a father figure by his players, Reid continues to be haunted by personal tragedy in his own family.

Three years ago on the eve of the Super Bowl, his sons Britt crashed his car while drink-driving, leaving a five-year-old girl in a coma. He was subsequently jailed for three years.

Through it all, however, Reid has kept the Chiefs rolling along, leading them to last year’s Super Bowl crown and back to the NFL Championship game this weekend.

Recent rumors have suggested retirement may soon be in his future. Reid insists he hasn’t given any thought to calling it a day.

“I’ll know when that time is,” Reid said this week. “It’s not today – and it won’t be Sunday.”