MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- For 21 seasons, Andy Reid could win everything, all the time, except the thing his profession values most. The lack of a Super Bowl championship on his resume -- the gut-wrenching way the Philadelphia Eagles lost in Reid's only other chance 15 years ago -- did not haunt him so much as it caused those around him to ache for him. Jeffrey Lurie, the Eagles owner who remained close to Reid even after letting him go, wanted a championship so badly for Reid that he came to Sunday's Super Bowl telling everyone around he had never rooted for a non-Eagles victory as hard as he would be rooting for Reid.
"It means the world," screamed tight end Travis Kelce. "We got a ring for the big guy. He's married to us forever. He can't get rid of us."
For a few moments late in the game, it appeared that Reid's excruciating history would repeat itself. Reid's team was down by two scores again, as the Eagles had been to the New England Patriots 15 years ago. And they were going slowly. Surely, Reid could not be mismanaging the clock, the charge that has trailed his entire career.
That, Reid said, never crossed his mind. He was thinking only that if the Chiefs could hit the accelerator for a series or two, they would be OK. It was the coach on the other sideline, Kyle Shanahan, who inexplicably had let time leak away at the end of the first half, who had played too conservatively at the start of the second, too, while Reid had twice gone for it on fourth down in the first half. And this time, Reid had the best quarterback in the NFL, and certainly the best one he has ever had. That, as much as anything, might underscore how accomplished Reid had been even before Sunday. His teams have won 10 divisions titles in his 21 seasons, but Mahomes has been the starter for just two of those. His teams have been to seven conference championship games -- just two with Mahomes. And in 21 years, he has had just three losing seasons.
Philadelphia remains a complex part of Reid's career. Fans began to turn on him after that Super Bowl disappointment, but feelings have softened since then and most of his players have remained intensely loyal. Donovan McNabb spoke to the Chiefs this week and Troy Vincent, now the NFL's executive vice president of football operations, choked up when he talked about what Reid had gone through in Philadelphia. As soon as the Chiefs won, the Eagles tweeted their congratulations: "Time's yours, Andy."
"We were so close so many times," Reid said. "My heart went out to them. They have a little piece of all of this. It's humbling. I do appreciate every bit of it."
Still, Reid sloughed off questions about what this meant to him. He was happy for the Hunt family and Kansas City, and he told the team he would coach for another 20 years if he could have that bunch. He was excited, he said. Now that the Chiefs had won one, he wanted another, he added. But the other stuff would take care of itself -- it is simply not where his mind is.
It is where everybody else's is, though. Mahomes said that when he became the starter for the Chiefs he had two goals. The first was to win the trophy named for the founder of the Chiefs, Lamar Hunt, which goes to the AFC champions. The second and more important one was to win the Super Bowl for Reid.
"It puts all doubt aside," Mahomes said. "He's one of the best coaches of all time and he already was before this. He works so hard. He gets in at 3 and leaves at 11. I don't think he sleeps. I try to beat him in and I never have."
As the red and yellow Lombardi-shaped confetti rained onto the field, Reid was on the podium holding his wife's hand. She had said early in the week that Reid was not obsessed with the title that had eluded him. But afterward, as she wondered how dorky she looked in a championship baseball cap -- she didn't, at all -- she said it hadn't sunk in yet. They rode side by side in a golf cart, her husband finally receiving the congratulations so many had waited so long to deliver.
Reid had finally won the big one after all. He planned to celebrate with another double cheeseburger -- extra cheese. He had more than earned it. Last week, Joe Banner, the man who hired Reid in Philadelphia and has remained friendly with him, predicted that with Reid and Mahomes together, he would be shocked if the Chiefs did not win multiple Super Bowls over the next half-dozen years. The 21-season march to the first one had finally ended. The march to the second will probably begin soon after the championship parade on Wednesday. Reid, better than most, knows just how fleeting success is. It is finally Reid's to savor before the work begins again. The Chiefs may be wedded to Reid forever with his first championship, but even Reid knows the celebration he has waited so long for won't last long.
"It will never be the same as it is tonight," Reid said. "That's the sick part of this job."
Now, finally there can be no argument: Few have done it better.