September 6 Philadelphia Inquirer
“If he could have, Kevin Kolb would have followed Art Briles to this south Texas town, home of Baylor University.
Twice before in the life and football times of Kolb, he trailed after this Svengali-type coach – first to Stephenville High School and then to the University of Houston. On both occasions, Kolb had to make gut-wrenching decisions.
But the road shared by these two Texas slingers, separated only by time and now thousands of miles, had to eventually hit a fork. Kolb was slated for the NFL – and eventually the Eagles – while Briles was to continue his climb up the coaching ladder to where he resides now at Baylor.
But the bond remains. Both were decorated Texas high school quarterbacks. Both toiled at Houston beneath the shadow of the Big Twelve. Both learned the game from their coaching fathers, who were toughest of all on their sons.
“That’s probably why Kevin and I got on so well,” Briles said. “He’s a coach’s son. I was a coach’s son. And I think he respects the way I coach because I let him be a man first.”
Briles allows his quarterbacks extraordinary freedom, and it was no different for Kolb – first at Stephenville, but more significantly at Houston. But with freedom comes accountability. And Kolb felt responsible when the Cougars struggled during his sophomore and junior seasons.
“Coach Briles and I were so close, and I knew that my career was parallel to his career, and he wanted to be a college coach so bad,” Kolb said. “So when we had those ‘dip’ years, I told myself in my head as a 19-year-old, ‘Man, I’ve got to play well, because if I don’t play well there’s a chance that my favorite coach in the whole world may not be a coach here next year.’
“I don’t think most people take their coach’s career into perspective, and that was very evident to me.”
Flash forward six years, and Kolb feels a similar burden for Eagles coach Andy Reid, who is putting his future on the line after trading away his franchise quarterback and promoting the 26-year-old.
“I don’t feel pressure; I feel responsibility,” Kolb said. “I don’t know if it’s the manly thing to do or if it’s just the honorable thing to do, but when somebody does that you can’t . . . go, ‘Look at the possibility of all the money I get to make.’ For me, I just want to go win games, and I want to prove that he made the right decision.””
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