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Eagles finally get their man Kelly

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PHILADELPHIA -- In the end, Chip Kelly chose the NFL, giving the Eagles their guy.

Philadelphia hired Kelly on Wednesday, just 10 days after he decided to stay at Oregon. The 49-year-old Kelly, known as an offensive innovator, becomes the 21st coach in team history and replaces Andy Reid, who was fired on Dec. 31 after a 4-12 season.

He'll be introduced at a news conference Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at the Eagles' practice facility.

Kelly, who was 46-7 in four years at Oregon, interviewed with the Eagles, Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills in a two-day span after leading the fast-flying No. 2 Ducks to a victory over Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 3.

The Eagles are known to have interviewed 11 candidates, including two meetings with Seahawks defensive co-ordinator Gus Bradley. All along, Kelly was thought to be Philadelphia's first choice in a long, exhaustive process that took many twists.

"Chip Kelly will be an outstanding head coach for the Eagles," owner Jeffrey Lurie said in a statement. "He has a brilliant football mind. He motivates his team with his actions as well as his words. He will be a great leader for us and will bring a fresh energetic approach to our team."

On the day he fired Reid, Lurie appeared to be describing Kelly when he said he wanted to find a "real smart, forward-thinking coach" who is "strategic, a strong leader, very comfortable in his own skin."

The enigmatic Kelly reportedly was close to signing with the Browns after a long interview on Jan. 4. He met with the Eagles for nine hours the next day, setting up a soap-opera scenario in which the Eagles were competing with Browns CEO Joe Banner, their former president and longtime friend of Lurie who left the organization after a falling out.

But that roller coaster ended when Kelly opted to remain -- temporarily -- in Eugene, Ore. At the time, it was the second straight year Kelly had entertained overtures from NFL teams only to reject them.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 17, 2013 D4

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