An open letter to Chip Kelly: You're an NFL failure, it's time to go home

To: Chip Kelly
CC: Chip Kelly's Ego
c/o: Bill Reiter
CBS Sports


This letter has been a long time coming. Both of you -- Chip, and Chip's overgrown, massive Ego -- have done some amazing things together. Right up until you guys broke into the National Football League, you two were an incredible pair. Together, you helped revolutionize the game. The two of you rose from obscurity at New Hampshire to what became an Oregon powerhouse to, finally, the NFL. You arrived in the league with monikers like "genius" and "game-changer" and "brilliant." Right up until you went ahead and failed, spectacularly, each of you leading the other to humiliation.

Chip, let's start with you. You're a great coach. Great. An X's and O's savant. That's not under dispute. And we get why you always looked at your Ego and saw a ready ally. He's big, he's bold, he's out of control -- and, until you guys ascended to the top of the football ecosystem, he never steered you wrong. His flaws were also his strengths. Deep belief is great in true geniuses, and you are one, Chip. But here's the thing: Your Ego always made you seem smarter than you are. Yes, you went 10-6 your first two years in the NFL -- years where the Eagles and owner Jeffrey Lurie looked brilliant because they'd plucked you out of the college football ranks.

Thing is, Chip, you weren't as smart as you thought. Because that voice whispering in your ear that you were smarter than everyone else just made you look stupid. Really, really stupid. And you know what? You're not a dumb man. Clearly. You just got some bum advice, and it's ruined you, at least at this level. Remember in 2015, when you wrestled control of football operations away from general manager Howie Roseman? That was the beginning of the end.

Things went south quickly in Philadelphia once Kelly took more control. USATSI

That's when Ego really started messing things up. Any fingerprints of Andy Reid, your predecessor, on your roster started to look like Public Enemy No. 1. DeSean Jackson? Gone. LeSean McCoy? Same. We watched Jeremy Maclin, Nick Foles (remember when he was good?), Evan Mathis, a string of talent -- of guys who had done big things in Philly -- head elsewhere. And once, Chip, you got to craft your own roster, it became a case study in rising to your level of incompetence.

So you headed to San Francisco this year for one last attempt to prove you belonged, and you got an answer. Just not the one you wanted. Those reports out there that you don't want to go back to Oregon? I'm sure they're true. But that's your Ego talking, and he's already led you to a bad place, already turned you from visionary and football mastermind to another hack who couldn't cut it in the big time.

Go home. Go to college.

You're 1-10 right now with the 49ers, and while no one's saying they're the most loaded team on Earth, well, Chip, it's still 1-10. I mean, come on man. Bill Parcells was right: You are what your record says you are. And since you took over GM duties with the Eagles two years ago, combined with this year in San Francisco, you're 7-19. That's your record since you got what you and Ego wanted. You are what your record says you are. You're an NFL loser.

Chip Kelly's 49ers are 1-10 this season. USATSI

Now, Chip's Ego, it's your turn, and I don't want you to take this the wrong way. Confidence, swagger, even arrogance -- they can be insanely valuable things. You have real value. You do. Some of the greatest thinkers, politicians and, yes, coaches of all time were all-time egomaniacs. There needs to be a strong, even brazen, sense of self-worth for entrepreneurs, and what's more entrepreneurial than trying to rewire how football offenses operate? What's more bold than pulling it off? You did that, every time you told Chip to hell with everyone else; every time you told him he was smarter than all those other coaches following the pack rather than leading a way ahead of them.

And yet ... you went too far, bought too much of your own press, looked in that mirror one too many times and said," Damn I'm good!" Look, it happens. You're in good company. Few true all-timers got there without an ego that, like you, eventually led their selves to great failure: Napoleon invading Russia, the mistakes that led to Churchill's banishment until World War II, Michael Jordan as a Washington Wizard, your colleague Nick Saban, who I happen to think is the greatest college football coach of all time, and that Miami debacle.

You got Chip here, to the top of the mountain. You know it. I know it. He probably knows it. But it's time you step aside. Stop telling Chip he doesn't need to go back to the ego-hit of recruiting teenagers who may not play for him, if all goes well, for two or three years. He does. Stop putting the idea in his head a campus isn't good enough for his greatness. It is. Stop telling him he -- and his genius, meaning you -- belong at the NFL level. He doesn't, and you certainly don't. Stop whispering in his ear that once he gets more player personnel control all will be right in San Francisco. It most certainly won't be. Just stop.

Chip Kelly was 46-7 as an NCAA head coach. USATSI

Wow, that felt good, right? To tell it straight. Both of you guys -- you failed, miserably, at the NFL level. And that's OK. Might sound trite, but learn from your mistakes and the world can be yours. In your case, can be yours again. You just have to figure out what went wrong, and not make the same mistake again.

And that means -- Chip and Chip's Ego -- the two of you need to have a long talk together and realize both of you belong anywhere but the National Football League.

National Columnist

Bill Reiter began his career as a newspaper journalist before becoming a national columnist at CBS Sports. He currently hosts a national CBS Sports radio show from New York City from 6 to 10 p.m. ET called... Full Bio

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