PHILADELPHIA -- After two decades in the NFL, Andy Reid has seen many changes -- it's what he says keeps his job fresh even as he enters his 14th season as Eagles head coach.
So as debate swirls around the NFL's increasing restrictions on some hits and the stiff penalties handed out for the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal, Reid endorsed the changes meant to make the game safer.
He added that league commissioner Roger Goodell got it right when it came to imposing penalties for the Saints' bounties, lending the backing of the NFL's longest-tenured head coach to suspensions and rule changes that still rile some in the game.
"I think the league's done a great job, and I think if you look at the big picture of Roger Goodell, people kind of micro-analyze him, I think. You have to look at the things that he's doing he feels are the best for the game," Reid said in a recent interview.
"He's making people accountable for their work and what they say and what they do, and I don't think that's bad," Reid said. "Do people like change? No, people don't like change, so there's going to be people that gripe ... but I think for the betterment of the game, for the betterment of the NFL, I think he's keeping perspective on that."
Goodell's latest challenge was the scandal in which Saints players and coaches allegedly offered money for hits that knocked opponents out of the game. The fallout included a yearlong suspension for Saints coach Sean Payton.
"I don't agree with bounties," Reid said. "I know I don't believe in that, and I know I support what the commissioner did."
The idea of players intentionally injuring an opponent, Reid said, goes against the attitudes he sees every week from athletes on his team and around the league.
"When you talk to the players, do they want to put a nice hit on somebody? Absolutely. Do they want to maim them, hurt them where they can't make a living? No," Reid said. "Guys don't want to ruin another man's career."
He cited the examples of players praying for injured opponents.
Defenders still hit hard, but "you don't need the other stuff. You don't need the extra sugar on it."
The Eagles featured prominently in the discussion over new rules to protect players. DeSean Jackson absorbed a vicious head shot that helped prompt a leaguewide crackdown. Players around the NFL, including on the Eagles, have chafed under the new rules restricting some hits.
"You can still put a lick on a guy. You can still do that," he said. "You just have to move your target, where you're going to tackle, and I think that's OK."
Defenders need to adjust and aim for the chest, he said.
"Everybody has the same situation, so you make it work. I don't think it takes away from the game. I still think you're going to see the big hits. I think you're going to see a reduction in hits to the head, which I think is a good thing," he said.
"Nobody likes change. ... It can be a positive thing," Reid said.
Reid, though, is one of the NFL's great constants, having spent so long in one city in a league in which five-year plans have become obsolete.
But with a contract that ends in two seasons, annual questions arise about how much longer Reid can remain the Eagles coach. Last season's disappointing 8-8 record brought as much media and fan criticism as he has ever faced.
But Reid has seemed comfortable in recent weeks, at least in public. He has been more relaxed and accessible with reporters, more forthcoming with his thoughts on how he guides his team.
Asked about last season's disappointment, he focused on the positive while saying that he was disappointed to miss the playoffs.
"When it was all said and done I was glad of the progress that was made," Reid said. "I was comfortable with how the team jelled at the end of the year, which I think is important."
He said the team's four-game winning streak to end the year created a positive atmosphere that has carried into the offseason. Now the roster is back almost entirely intact, plus a few additions.
Reid has had unusually long coaching stints in the NFL -- seven years in Green Bay before coming to Philadelphia -- but it's the new things, Reid said, that keep him going.
"I honestly love every day I have an opportunity to coach in Philadelphia, in the National Football League," he said.
But when it was pointed out that the NFL is generally a short-term business, Reid agreed.
"I don't take any of it for granted. That's not what I do. I come in every day, and it's a new day, and I'm fired up about it," Reid said. "I enjoy the city of Philadelphia."
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