“No one can compel me to resign from my coaching position. My contract with Kansas City is not concluded yet, so please cease the criticism,” he asserted.

Andy Reid, the coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, has won more than 250 games in his career, fourth all-time, which puts him high on any list of the N.F.L.’s greatest coaches. Most of the others in that pantheon are men who personify the sport’s militaristic soul — Vince Lombardi,

for example, the fabled coach of the 1960s-era Green Bay Packers, or Reid’s contemporary, the grim Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots. But Reid is no Lombardi or Belichick; he’s Steve Jobs. He’s a designer, a tinkerer, a product engineer who imbues his football with creativity and even an occasional touch of whimsy.

To take his measure is like looking into a kaleidoscope. Adjust the view, and you get different images. He’s the jolliest fat man in America — renowned for his appetite and for being the wryly comic figure in TV ads for State Farm and Snickers — or the saddest. He’s a father figure to his players, and he’s the father of two sons who have faced serious criminal charges, one now dead from a heroin overdose and the other in prison after grievously injuring a little girl while driving drunk. He controls everything. And he controls nothing

The constant is Reid’s football genius. Football is, of course, one of America’s great distractions, and Reid’s version — fast, inventive, wide-open, surprising — is the most distracting of all. It simultaneously separates you from your day-to-day concerns while making you forget about the sport’s pathologies. At one point in the Chiefs’ final game of the 2022-23 regular season, for example,


all 11 players on offense gathered in a huddle, then locked arms and began circling rapidly before scurrying to the line of scrimmage and running a trick play. (Reid has said they are not trick plays if you practice them.) The center snapped the ball to a running back, who pitched it to the Chiefs’ magician of a quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, who then threw it across the field to a wide-open receiver. The next day’s sports coverage likened the presnap dance to a game of Ring Around the Rosie.