PHOENIX -- A family reunion feel surrounds Super Bowl LVII, with the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles intertwined like relatives at a grandiose picnic. It's been dubbed The Andy Reid Bowl, The Kelce Bowl. But the connections run even deeper, starting with the front offices, where aggressive tactics have led to years of success in Philly and K.C.
In Philly, Howie Roseman helped build a Super Bowl champion in 2017. But after three consecutive seasons with fewer than 10 wins, bottoming out in 2020 with a 4-11-1 record and parting ways with then-coach Doug Pederson, the Eagles were at a crossroads. Roseman responded by trading former No. 2 overall pick Carson Wentz, handing the reigns to Jalen Hurts, hiring Nick Sirianni, and revamping nearly the entire roster over the next two seasons.
The moves looked like gambles. They paid off big-time with a Super Bowl berth. Roseman said Monday that he never fears taking a big swing when the alternative is settling for mediocrity.
"When we won a championship, we'd made aggressive decisions, and we had taken some risks, and we saw that it's hard because the league is designed like a bell curve," he said during Super Bowl LVII Opening Night. "They want most teams to be in the middle of the bell curve. So for you to take a chance and try to get to the top of the bell curve, you probably have to risk being at the opposite end. I think for us, it would be worse to fall in the middle than it would be taking a chance to be great and maybe falling back."
Roseman's tenure has been defined by splash moves. Some, like the trade-up in 2016 to draft Wentz, haven't worked out, but the Eagles GM remains undeterred. He drafted Hurts in the second round of the 2020 draft, despite Wentz's presence on the roster. This offseason, he snagged stud pass rusher Haason Reddick in free agency and made a massive draft-day trade to bring in star wideout A.J. Brown. Philly swiped Chauncey Gardner-Johnson from New Orleans, traded for pass rusher Robert Quinn at the deadline, and added Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph to the D-line when it was clear help was needed.
Likewise, his counterparts in Kansas City have been equally aggressive in roster building.
When Reid left Philly for K.C. in 2013, he took along scout Brett Veach, who had spent his first nine seasons in the Eagles organization. Under Reid's guidance, he rose from a Chiefs personnel analyst into the general manager role in 2017.
Veach said Monday he's always admired Roseman's fearless attitude in building winning clubs.
"I think over the years he's shown his ability to kind of think outside the box and understand the value of the board and be aggressive," Veach said. "I've certainly been labeled on the aggressive side, and I don't think it's a coincidence that I have my roots in Philadelphia. The Eagles are certainly in that mold. I think it's what organizations have to do. We've got to be calculated, but at the same time, you can't just sit back and wait for things to happen. You have to make things happen. I certainly got a taste of that in Philly and was able to carry that to Kansas City."
Early in his tenure, Veach made splash signings and trades, including signing safety Tyrann Mathieu and trading for pass rusher Frank Clark. The 2022 offseason brought K.C. to somewhat of a crossroads. With less salary cap space to finagle big moves, Veach traded star receiver Tyreek Hill to Miami. The swap allowed K.C. to add a deep rookie class that has helped spearhead their third Super Bowl in five seasons.
"It was one of those things when Pat's on his rookie deal, you're taking some swings," Veach said of his aggressive tactics in previous seasons. "Maybe you're signing a Tyann Mathieu or trading for a Frank Clark, and all of a sudden, you have a lot of good players and a cap situation. When you're kind of at a crossroads there, you have to be aggressive in another way, and that's acquiring picks and not being afraid to make moves like (trading Hill). It's one of those things that you plan, and then when reality hits, it's harder than you think because there is an emotional aspect to players and legacies and what have you. But credit to the staff and the organization for sticking behind the plan. These guys have done a tremendous job, and we've got one more game to go, and we'll see how it goes."
Fearlessness in the face of challenging situations has separated Kansas City and Philadelphia from the middle of that bell curve.
"You have to make things happen in this business and this league," Veach said. "Things aren't just going to fall into your lap. Good luck is just a product of good preparation and planning. The Eagles have done a good job of adapting and adjusting over the years and maybe having a thought process or a path charted out, but then they have to quickly veer. And you have to be able to do that, whether that be in free agency, signing players, or trading players and having to alter your route. You have to have a plan, stick to it, but take calculated swings."
Roseman said he could tell early on working with Veach that the future Chiefs GM would bring something special wherever he landed. Both GMs credited their time with Reid for building the foundation that allowed them to be intelligently aggressive with their moves.
"Brett and I shared this relentless, persistent passion," Roseman said. " ... You knew he had a tremendous future because he had a tremendous feel, not only for talent but how to put it together. He had a great feel for how to talk to players. And obviously, like myself, he learned from coach Reid. I don't really think about it like being on the other side. And it's kind of like, using a Philly analogy, like it's not Rocky and Drago. I feel like these are people who have a lot of common ties, and we're playing for an opportunity to win a championship. It's special."
There might not be Rocky-Drago animosity come Sunday, but only one team will lift the Lombardi Trophy as the confetti falls.