PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Andy Reid stuck around after he was fired by the Philadelphia Eagles, meeting with players, encouraging staff and shaking hands with the man who let him go.
After 14 years, Reid found it hard to walk away.
Owner Jeffrey Lurie understood. "He had the love and respect of every individual in this organization," he said at his news conference Monday. "This man is amazing to work with, smart and dedicated, and the record will speak for itself."
Not this season's 4-12 record nor the humiliating score of the season-ending loss to the New York Giants, 42-7, on Sunday.
It was the worst finish by the team since Lurie fired Ray Rhodes following a 3-13 finish in 1998.
"When you have a season like that, it's embarrassing. It's personally crushing to me and it's terrible," Lurie said. "Our fans deserve the very best. This year, they got a team that was not very good at all. I feel terrible about that."
Lurie informed Reid of his decision shortly before 9 a.m. Reid addressed the team an hour later and received a standing ovation.
"It was emotional," running back LeSean McCoy said. "We felt his pain. It hurts a lot."
Many players blamed themselves for his ouster and a few held back tears while talking about their former coach.
"It's unfortunate. I feel we personally let him down," wide receiver Jeremy Maclin said. "It's a sad day."
Reid took over a 3-13 team in 1999, drafted Donovan McNabb with the No. 2 overall pick and quickly turned the franchise into a title contender.
He is the winningest coach in club history and led them to a run of four straight NFC championship games, a streak that ended with a Super Bowl trip after the 2004 season — and a loss, 24-21, to the New England Patriots. The Eagles are still seeking their first NFL title since 1960.
Reid cemented Philadelphia as a destination football town and led the team to an unmatched level of success. But the team hasn't won a playoff game since 2008 and after last season's 8-8 finish, Lurie said he was looking for improvement this year.
Instead, it was worse.
"I look forward to the day when everyone welcomes him back into the Eagles Hall of Fame because that's inevitable," Lurie said.
Reid grew up in Southern California and may welcome a return home. He already has said he wants to coach next season.
"I think Andy is an outstanding football coach," Lurie said. "That's what Andy wants to do. He doesn't want to transition to other aspects of football operations. He's a football coach. He wants to coach right now. He was very excited about the future of this team and this franchise. He wanted to stay."
Reid is due to make $6 million in 2013 in the final year of his contract. He is the franchise leader in wins (140), losses (102) and winning percentage (.578) and led the Eagles to nine playoff appearances, six division titles and five NFC championship games.