Before Bill Cowher won Super Bowl XL, he was Andy Reid.
Cowher was a highly successful coach in the regular season, but he was criticized for not being able to win big games in the postseason. Reid has an eerily similar track record.
Before the 2005 season, Cowher piled up division titles and playoff appearances in his first 13 seasons in the NFL, but had a 1-4 record in AFC championship games and was 0-1 in the Super Bowl.
Reid, in his 14th season as Eagles head coach, had the same resume in his first 13 seasons: 1-4 in NFC championship games and 0-1 in the Super Bowl.
Each made the playoffs nine times in those first 13 seasons, and each only had two losing seasons.
Their Super Bowl losses were similar, too. Reid's Super Bowl loss came against an opponent that was at the end of a dynastic run. The Eagles lost against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX. It was the third Super Bowl in four years for the Patriots.
In Cowher's first Super Bowl (XXX), the Steelers lost to the Cowboys, who also completed a run of three Super Bowls in a four-year period.
Cowher won his elusive Super Bowl after the '05 season, and, after the '06 season, rode off into the sunset and into a career in television.
Reid is still chasing his Super Bowl victory.
The Eagles are 3-1 as they prepare to play the Steelers Sunday at Heinz Field. They are alone in first place atop the NFC East Division after beating the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants Sunday night.
Steelers safety Ryan Clark came into the league in '02 and played his first four seasons with the Giants and Washington Redskins. He played against the Eagles twice a year and watched from afar as the Eagles won the NFC East in three of those four seasons.
"He's a great coach, a very talented X's and O's coach," Clark said. "He comes from that long tree of West Coast [offense] coaches who have always been productive in this league."
Clark said Reid builds his teams in a consistent manner, but he said this Eagles team might have their best receiving corps since he has been in the league.
"He finds people who fit what he does best," Clark said. "You always see the same type of running back. When he had [Brian] Westbrook, he was able to do screens and get him in space. And now he has LeSean McCoy, who is able to do some of the same things.
"They're probably more explosive on the outside than they've ever been. I remember when they were successful with James Thrash and Todd Pinkston. Now you have DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, who can really make plays. You have a coach who really knows how to coach offense. He's someone they respect and he puts them in position to make plays."
Reid has managed to become the longest-tenured head coach in the NFL in a city known for a harsh media corps and harsher fan base. Since Reid came to Philadelphia in '99, the 76ers of the NBA have had eight head coaches, the Flyers (NHL) seven and the Phillies (MLB) four managers. Only Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs (NBA), Lindy Ruff of the Buffalo Sabres (NHL) and Barry Trotz of the Nashville Predators (NHL) have enjoyed longer tenures in the four major sports leagues in North America.
"I have a good owner, which you guys also have right there," Reid said Wednesday, referencing the Rooney ownership of the Steelers. "I have a good owner who has trusted me for a lot of years to do this. I'm surrounded by good players, good coaches and good front-office people."
Reid has not been immune to criticism. He was lambasted for losing three of those NFC championship games at home and his job security was brought up before this season when owner Jeffrey Lurie said an 8-8 record would not be good enough for Reid to keep his job. The Eagles were 8-8 a year ago and missed the playoffs.
Even though he has been under constant pressure to win, Reid said the job has been enjoyable.
"I love it," he said. "I've enjoyed every day. I feel very honored to be a head coach in this league and to be in a city that is as passionate about the game as Philadelphia."
Ray Fittipaldo: email@example.com and Twitter@rayfitt1.