They know each other about as well as any two people in any profession can.
For 14 years, they worked, virtually side-by-side, to turn a woeful football team into a winner – Joe Banner as president and Andy Reid as coach.
Eventually, they went their separate ways, but their friendship never faded. Nor did the mutual respect they developed for their respective roles in helping the Philadelphia Eagles to appear in five NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl.
“I’m a big Joe Banner fan,” Reid told reporters who cover the Cleveland Browns during a conference call this week. “I spent 14 great years with him and we had a ton of success together. He was one of the leads who was instrumental in me being a part of the Philadelphia Eagles, and then really gave me every opportunity, along with (Eagles owner) Jeff Lurie, to be able to win football games.
“We experienced the highs and the lows, and we did it together.”
As chief executive officer of the Browns, Banner also is looking to achieve the success he enjoyed in the City of Brotherly Love.
On Sunday, they’ll be reunited when the Browns face the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Although only one will be pleased with the outcome, Banner and Reid are looking forward to the chance to spend a little time before the game catching up and reminiscing about their days in Philadelphia.
“I sent him a text the first time I saw him on TV in red vs. green,” Banner recalled of when Reid’s Chiefs faced the Eagles at Philadelphia earlier this season. “I don’t know; maybe there’ll be a second wave of kind of shock of seeing what doesn’t seem natural when I’m actually seeing him in person. But I feel like I’ve partially gotten through the emotion of what doesn’t seem real, because it was just green for so long. But I’m braced for the fact that when I see him in person and he’s in red and I’m in Browns colors, how foreign that’s going to seem to us.”
What isn’t foreign to either of them is the process of assembling a Super Bowl contender.
When Banner thinks of Reid’s contribution to the Eagles once being regarded as a dominant team, he thinks about a non-stop pursuit of excellence.
“He was incredibly driven, a really competitive guy,” Banner said. “At the same time, he was able to control that in a way that players really respected. There was an even keel about his intensity, and I think the players really gravitated to that and it gave them a lot of confidence to him and positioned him as a really effective leader. And I think his competitiveness and drive were contagious, but in a very constructive way, not one of these roller-coasters of emotions you see in some people.”
Reid had an up-close view of the many moves of which Banner was an integral part as the Eagles became a consistent winner.
The coach is confident the executive can do the same for his new team.
“He’s a brilliant guy,” Reid said. “He knows football, he knows talent, he knows what it takes to win. I was very close with (former Browns president) Mike Holmgren (for whom Reid worked as an assistant coach when Holmgren coached the Green Bay Packers), too, and I thought he had things going in the right direction. So Joe’s able to pick up and now put his mark on it and I think will do just do a tremendous job.
“I think Cleveland is very fortunate to have him.”
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