Eagles coach Andy Reid, Vikings coach Brad Childress, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, and Panthers coach John Fox received a major scare as their military plane took off from Germany.
Per NFL Director of Community Affairs David Krichavsky, who is accompanying the coaches on their tour, the C17 struck a bird during takeoff, forcing the pilots to make a quick landing so that the damage could be inspected.
Here’s Krichavsky’s account, via the Eagles’ website:
“Everyone then settled into their seats, and our plane headed down
the runway and got airborne. After climbing in the sky for only 30-60
seconds though, there was a solid thump on the right side of the
airplane. Then the ‘load masters’ (airmen who are responsible for the
cargo in a plane) who were in the cabin of the C17 with us started
running around the plane and looking out the windows a bit frantically. Something was clearly amiss. A minute later, one of the pilots came
on the load speaker and announced, ‘We hit a bird on take-off. We don’t
know what damage has been done to the plane. We are currently circling
and will be landing back at Ramstein soon.’
“Although 3 of the 4 coaches were up in the cockpit and none of them — including Coach Reid – had any control over the plane, Coach Reid got
all the abuse for this accident. As soon as the head coach of the
Eagles descended from the cockpit, the group was ready for him: ‘Who let
Captain Eagle up there? . . . Nice work, Birdman. . . Reid is done; no
more flying for him!’ I think I even heard Coach Fox mention that it
was a good thing that we didn’t have to call in Sully for the emergency
It’s good that they were able to joke about it after the fact, but bird strikes can be very serious. The fact that it happened underscores the sacrifices these men are making during the rare and precious down time they enjoy every year. Yes, we continue to maintain that being a football coach isn’t really work, but the human body needs rest. This is their chance to get it, and they’ve decided instead to risk life and limb by heading to the Middle East to visit with the folks who are helping to keep us all safe.