PHILADELPHIA -- The pre-draft trip was supposed to be routine for Andy Reid, then Green Bay's tight ends coach: Head to Texas A&M, work out a prospect, write the scouting report, and head home.
Reid's prospect ended up being drafted by Minnesota. So Green Bay took a chance on someone else Reid was enamored of, Aggies offensive line coach Mike Sherman.
A friendship started that day in 1996, one that paid dividends a year later when Reid was promoted to quarterbacks coach and recommended Sherman to Mike Holmgren as a replacement.
"It turned out he had talked to a couple of different guys and he asked for my opinion on it and I told him Mike Sherman was the best candidate," Reid said. "He's gone out and has just done a great job."
Reid would leave Green Bay in 1999 for the head job in Philadelphia (12-4), where he's led the Eagles to two straight NFC Championship games. Sherman followed Holmgren to Seattle before taking over the Packers (11-6), who play at Philadelphia today in a divisional playoff game.
Friendship takes a hiatus for 60 minutes.
Reid and Sherman worked under Holmgren in 1997 and 1998, making it to one Super Bowl. The bond Reid and Sherman formed that one spring day only tightened.
They were both family men who were offensive linemen in college. While they both had head coaching aspirations, neither looked beyond the job he had. They were tireless workers, who spent more time in the office during the season than at home.
"I think we're very competitive," Sherman said. "I think we're very similar in many ways -- in our values, in how to run a football team and how to run our families at home. I think more than anything we believe in the qualities of teamwork, hard work, and effort."
Both put their immediate imprints on their teams.
Reid inherited a 3-13 team in 1999, selected Donovan McNabb with the No. 2 pick overall in that year's draft, and quickly turned the franchise from laughingstock into championship contender.
Only Vince Lombardi had a better winning percentage in Green Bay after four seasons than Sherman's 43-21 record.
Reid doesn't believe they're close to matching Holmgren's accomplishments.
"We had a hard time believing there's another coach in the National Football League that did it better than Mike Holmgren did," Reid said. "He was a great teacher for the both of us. I think we've taken a big part of him and put it into our programs."
Brett Favre had Reid as his quarterbacks coach during those Super Bowl years and sees the parallels between the coaches. Favre said both are players' coaches and staunch advocates of the West Coast offense, which Holmgren brought with him from his time under Bill Walsh in San Francisco.
Both coaches remained believers in their systems and players, even when injury and free agent defections would appear to weaken their rosters.
"They're able to relate to their players," Favre said. "I think it was obvious last year with Mike Sherman and all the injuries. I think that's obvious with Andy this year. They started 0-2 and were ready to run Andy out of town. He's had injury after injury after injury, yet they finish the season atop the NFC."
Does the familiarity matter? Reid made McNabb watch film of Favre to learn the West Coast offense and Reid can pick the brain of assistant Marty Mornhinweg, who coached on Holmgren's staff in 1995-96 and against Favre with the Detroit Lions in the 2001 and 2002 seasons.