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Eagles fire Andy Reid after 14 seasons

- Associated Press - Monday, December 31, 2012

PHILADELPHIA — Andy Reid's worst coaching season with the Philadelphia Eagles ended Monday after 14 years when he was fired by owner Jeffrey Lurie, who said it was time "to move in a new direction."

The dismissal came one day after Reid and the Eagles were humiliated 42-7 by the New York Giants and ended their season at 4-12.

"When you have a season like that, it's embarrassing. It's personally crushing to me and it's terrible," Lurie said at a news conference at the team's training facility.

He called Reid "not only an outstanding coach, but an outstanding person."

"He didn't share himself with the press because he wanted to protect his players and the way he coaches," Lurie said. "Having worked with him 14 years, he's a gem of a person. This man was amazing to work with, smart and dedicated himself."

Reid met with his players afterward and was sent off with a standing ovation.

"Not only an outstanding coach, but an outstanding person," Lurie said. "He didn't share himself with the press because he wanted to protect his players and the way he coaches. Having worked with him 14 years, he's a gem of a person. This man was amazing to work with, smart and dedicated himself."

"It's unfortunate. I feel we personally let him down," wide receiver Jeremy Maclin said. "It's a sad day."

Added rookie quarterback Nick Foles: "It's up to the players to make the plays."

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 were 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.

Reid is due to make $6 million in 2013 in the final year of his contract. He is the franchise leader in wins (140) and winning percentage (.578) and led the Eagles to six division titles and five NFC championship games.

Aside from team troubles, the year was a painful one for Reid. He endured a devastating loss weeks before the season opener when his oldest son, Garrett, died at training camp after a long battle with drug addiction.

In October, Reid fired close friend and longtime assistant Juan Castillo, who was in his second season as defensive coordinator after coaching the offensive line for 13 years. He later fired defensive-line coach Jim Washburn.

Still to be determined is whether Michael Vick stays with the team.

In 2009, Reid and Lurie gave Vick a second chance in the NFL after the former star quarterback spent 18 months in federal prison related to a dogfighting operation. Vick took over as the starter in 2010, had a remarkable season and led the Eagles to the NFC East title. But like rest of the team, Vick regressed the last two seasons.

After beating the defending Super Bowl champion Giants on Sept. 30, the Eagles lost eight straight games — their worst losing streak in 42 years.

Lurie said he has a "defined" list of candidates to replace Reid, but hasn't spoken to any coaches or set up interviews yet. General manager Howie Roseman and president Don Smolenski will assist him in the process.

"It's better to find the right leader than to make a fast decision," Lurie said. "There's no guarantee I'll make a great decision, but I'm confident I will."

PhiladelpiaEagles.com posted video of Lurie and Reid addressing team employees, who gave Reid a big ovation. Lurie handed him a game ball.

Many employees gathered in a crowded auditorium to hear Lurie's news conference.

"I have a hard time standing before people without a few boos involved. But I'm taking it, I'm taking it all in," Reid said. "These have been the greatest 14 years of my life."

He added: "Sometimes change is good. ... I know the next guy that comes in will be phenomenal. The ultimate goal is a Super Bowl. Everybody in this room, I wish you a big ring on the finger in the near future.

"Hail to the Eagles, baby."

AP Sports Writer Dan Gelston contributed to this report.

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