PHILADELPHIA - Jeffrey Lurie invented Andy Reid, trusted him, tolerated him, enriched him, all with the belief that he would be repaid in championships. Soon, it will be time for Reid to make good on the favor and remove Lurie from a chore he too long has avoided.
Lurie is going to have a different coach for his Eagles next season. He promised his fans a coaching change if there was not substantial improvement in 2012 over the 8-8 record of 2011. The best the Eagles can do now is finish 9-7. That doesn't pencil out. So Reid, who was hired by Lurie before he'd ever coached a football game, must go.
When it happens, and it will, Lurie will find it distasteful, difficult, sad. Where did the time go? Where will Reid wind up? Will it all be better? Deep inside, he will wish he could trust Reid for a 15th drive for a championship, the Eagles' first since 1960. But he has pride, too, not to mention stadium signage, souvenirs and beer to sell. Lurie will make a change. But it will not happen without a lumpy throat.
That's why Reid, who cherishes his friendship with Lurie, should resign. Now would be fine. Within a day after the end of the season would be mandatory. But he should remove that burden from the man who'd enabled his career.
There was more press than usual assembled in the NovaCare Complex auditorium Monday, just in case that happened. The Eagles had turned embarrassing Sunday, losing 31-6 to what was a three-win team, folding into last place in the NFC East, declining to tackle, running softly, turning the ball over.
The Eagles were back to where they were 14 years ago, with bad coaching, bad players and an exasperated owner.
'He's a competitive guy and nobody wants to win more than Jeffrey,' Reid said. 'I would tell you he's disappointed. I would tell you rightly so. He feels the same way we do, that we're letting people down in this city and so on. So, that's what I can tell you.'
So Reid knows that Lurie has a decision to make, and that it won't be easy. Yet he is not cooperating. Instead he is all but challenging Lurie to call security.
'I'm standing in front of the team and telling them these are the things we need to do, one of which is to continue to battle,' he said. 'So I think that would be a cop-out. That's not how I see things. That's not the way I'm wired. We're going to keep battling and do it as a team. I'm not going to tell the guys one thing and then do the other.'
Reid has a team playing poorly and without visible passion. He should be fired, if only as a message from the organization that such football will not be tolerated. But there are only 360 more regulation football minutes left in the regular season. And no coach on Reid's staff has earned a right to be slapped with an interim head-coach label. By now, Lurie must be hoping that at least the unraveling stops and his Eagles can be presentable for the final six games. That would delay his task. Yet when he recommitted to Reid in January, he denied that he had a fear of making the change.
'I don't,' the owner said. 'I don't. It's just not in me. I'm a risk taker. I don't know how many owners would have signed Michael Vick at the time.
'Our last search brought Andy, the most successful coach in Eagles history coming from Green Bay, and not even a coordinator at the time. It doesn't give me any sense of pause to do that again. And I'm sure, as everyone knows, every coach doesn't last forever.
'We'll be doing it again.' They will, and soon. It is just a matter of how. It has been said that Lurie should fire Reid now, out of compassion, as a way to set him free. No. It's Lurie who deserves better. And it's Reid who should do the humane thing.