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Reliving the Day the Eagles Hired Chip Kelly

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What a great day.

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Anniversary, Eagles fans. It's officially been one whole year since the Philadelphia Eagles announced Chip Kelly as the new head coach. It truly was an exciting day due to the nature of the hire. Follow along with me as I recap that special moment in time.

Setting the Scene:

By January 16, 2013, the Eagles "meandering and bizarre" coaching search had gone on for what felt like a very long time. Andy Reid was fired on December 31, 2012. What was taking so long? The Eagles had been linked to nearly every coach and assistant possible. Take a look at this long list of rumored names: Chip Kelly, Greg Roman, Vic Fangio, Mike McCoy, Jon Gruden, Jay Gruden, Dirk Koetter, Keith Armstrong, Mike Nolan, Bill O'Brien, Bruce Arians, Gus Bradley, Doug Marrone, Lovie Smith, Brian Kelly, Ken Whisenhunt, and even Brian freaking Billick! But alas, no hire. Meanwhile, other teams with vacancies around the league were making their moves. Andy Reid went quickly to Kansas City. The Bears locked up Marc Trestman. And so on.

Chip Kelly, rumored to be the top target, had gone through an extensive interview with the Eagles early in January, but nothing came out of the meeting. Shortly after that interview process, it was reported that Kelly would be returning to Oregon (read the comments in that article). For some, this was a bummer. Others rejoiced. Personally, I was a large Kelly advocate. So with Kelly out of the picture, then Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley seemed to emerge as the new favorite. All aboard the Gus Bus! Or something like that. I wasn't as enthused as others were with the prospect of Bradley, and was still bummed about missing out on Kelly.

Still, Eagles fans were excited when the Seahawks lost in the divisional round to the Falcons and Bradley was freed up to come to Philadelphia for an interview. The watch was on. Eagles fans were busy tracking Bradley's flight on their computers. There was even a helicopter flying over owner Jeff Lurie's estate to get a picture of Bradley as he arrived. Talk about crazy. Not long after, a few reports started to emerge that the Eagles were going to hire Bradley, but none derived from a major media outlet. With the stage set, I now take you to the day of the hiring.

January 16, 2013

I barely slept that night because I was excited to see if the Eagles were going to announce if Bradley was the hire. I woke up early and noted that a tweet from ESPN Insider Adam Schefter stating that Bradley was leaving Philadelphia to go down to interview with the Jaguars in Jacksonville. That seemed curious. If the Eagles were so interested in Bradley, how could they let him leave? I resigned to the fact the Eagles were sticking with their slow interview process. "Not today," I thought.

As I went about my morning, I kept an eye on Twitter to see if there were any more developments on Bradley and the Eagles' search. That's when I stumbled across this tweet from NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>My sense is the <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Eagles&amp;src=hash">#Eagles</a> search is heading down the home stretch. A new coach today? I hear it&#39;s possible. <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23threetogo&amp;src=hash">#threetogo</a></p>&mdash; Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) <a href="https://twitter.com/RapSheet/statuses/291565551715762176">January 16, 2013</a></blockquote>
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Hm. It sounded like he knew something. But who could it be, especially when Bradley is interviewing in Jacksonville? Needless to say, I was intrigued, and my focus on Twitter was even more intense. About an hour later, I saw this tweet:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>I know people are anxious for updates. Eagles, people around search have been quiet this morning so far.</p>&mdash; Tim McManus (@Tim_McManus) <a href="https://twitter.com/Tim_McManus/statuses/291578448869199872">January 16, 2013</a></blockquote>
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Now I was really suspicious. The last time I remember Eagles beat reporters saying that the Eagles were "being quiet", it was the day the team hired Juan Castillo as defense coordinator (yikes). This wasn't a "nothing going on" type of quiet; it was a "it's quiet... too quiet" kind of quiet. Shortly after this tweet, Geoff Mosher of CSN Philly chimed in with a tweet of his own to confirm McManus's notion.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p>Echo this sentiment. Eerily quiet, I might add. RT <a href="https://twitter.com/Tim_McManus">@tim_mcmanus</a> people anxious for updates. Eagles, people around search quiet this morning.</p>&mdash; Geoff Mosher (@GeoffMosherCSN) <a href="https://twitter.com/GeoffMosherCSN/statuses/291579455917416448">January 16, 2013</a></blockquote>
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The calm before the storm. In the interest of killing time, I turned on local sports radio to see what the hosts were saying about the Eagles coaching search. It's odd, because I usually don't always listen to radio unless I'm driving or to hear a specific interview. So for whatever reason, I turned it on, and I listened to the Tony Bruno and Harry Mayes show on 97.5 The Fanatic. Not even ten minutes into listening, Bruno interrupted their discussion saying he had an announcement. The "Breaking News" sound effect on their radio board played. I didn't think it was going to be a serious report. I've heard them break out that sound for other things such as announcing details of a giveaway contest. But no, this time, it was serious. And Bruno's words were shocking (paraphrasing, here): "We're hearing that Chip Kelly is back in running for the Eagles head coaching job." I couldn't believe it. I took to Twitter to share what I had heard:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>97.5 is saying they have sources that Chip Kelly is back in the running to be Eagles HC, wtf</p>&mdash; Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) <a href="https://twitter.com/BrandonGowton/statuses/291588093616730112">January 16, 2013</a></blockquote>
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Eagles fans on Twitter started to freak out. Was this real? Could this really be true?

And then I started to piece things together...

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Let&#39;s recap: McManus (who is affiliated with 97.5) says that the Eagles are suspiciously quiet today. Mosher confirms Tim&#39;s feeling... (1/2)</p>&mdash; Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) <a href="https://twitter.com/BrandonGowton/statuses/291589501464240129">January 16, 2013</a></blockquote>
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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>...then shortly after 97.5 reports Eagles could be back in the mix for Chip Kelly. Hm.</p>&mdash; Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) <a href="https://twitter.com/BrandonGowton/statuses/291589585308368896">January 16, 2013</a></blockquote>
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5 minutes later...

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Chip Kelly is the new coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, according to league sources. No announcement yet.</p>&mdash; Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) <a href="https://twitter.com/mortreport/statuses/291590864059392000">January 16, 2013</a></blockquote>
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And very shortly after, a confirmation tweet from Tim McManus himself.

Immediate reaction: disbelief and elation. It was amazing to think Kelly had gone from being the favorite, to being entirely ruled out, to ending up as the Eagles head coach. At this point, Eagles fans on Twitter, BGN, and other various social media outlets alike were going crazy with excitement. There were a lot of fun things to come out of that hire, such as: national reporters eating crow, Monte Kiffin jokes, and more... but this one was clearly the best:

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Fast forward a year, and now here we are. The excitement was worth it. Chip Kelly, with a Coach of the Year type performance, turned an underwhelming 4-12 2012 squad into 10-6 NFC East Division Championship winners. Along the way, he led the Eagles to record breaking success. Kelly still has his work cut out for him moving forward, but it's hard not to feel the team is in good hands and headed in the right direction under Kelly's guidance. The same sure couldn't be said when the Eagles were a rudderless ship after the firing of Reid.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has a fun story to tell. Where were you Chip Kelly was hired? How do you remember it?