The walrus is an ample, friendly, mustachioed creature with a lengthy life span despite being an endangered species.
That description also fits the Walrus, the nickname of Philadelphia's Andy Reid. He has survived 14 seasons with the Eagles, the longest current term for any coach with one team. But his employment security is imperiled by a disastrous year that seems about to get worse.
Philly are 3-7, losers of six straight, and hobble into Monday's game against Carolina with an offensive line in tatters and the concussed Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy, their two paramount weapons, unlikely to play.
Working in a town where a reputation for unforgiving fans was cemented years ago when Santa Claus was booed at a game, Reid hears constant calls for his resignation or firing. He rejects the first scenario outright .
"I'm standing in front of the team and saying these are the things we need to do, one of which is we need to battle," Reid said. Quitting, he explained, "would be a cop-out ... I'm not going to tell them one thing and do the other."
His involuntary ouster appears as inevitable as tomorrow's sunrise. Team owner Jeffrey Lurie warned before the season that he expected "substantial improvement" over last year's 8-8 team.
Reid said he has had no substantive conversations with Lurie, who has been busy dismantling the roster of his other sports property, baseball's Miami Marlins. He could devote the money saved from trading high-salaried Marlins to paying off the remaining year of Reid's contract.
"He feels the same way we do in that we're letting people down in this city," Reid said of his boss.
Reid could have salvaged his job with a mere decent season. The NFC East, customarily a power division, is in a recession. The New York Giants (6-4) suffer from Super Bowl hangover. Washington (5-6) are a construction zone. Dallas (5-6) are so dreadful that Reid can plan on commiserating soon with the Cowboys' dismissed coach, Jason Garrett.
No matter how much Reid's ears burn from hearing criticism, it will never approach the level of pain in his heart. An adult son died of a drug overdose at the Eagles' summer training camp.
The tragedy has given rise to speculation that Reid remains in mourning and thus distracted from his duties. Countering that theory is the sad fact that he has coped with drug addiction in the family for years. The deceased son and one other served prison terms for illegal narcotics possession.
"He's probably one of the strongest individuals I've ever met," Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin said. "I'm pretty sure he can handle everything."
One other characteristic about the walrus: It can survive in tough conditions. Reid's days in Philly are dwindling, but opportunities will surface for him to stroke his walrus mustache on another sideline next season.
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