INDIANAPOLIS — Frank Reich's coaching career has come full circle.
Back in 2006, Reich, a former backup quarterback with the Buffalo Bills, got in touch with his old general manager, Bill Polian, who by that time was in his 12th year as the team president and GM of the Indianapolis Colts.
Reich, who wanted to explore the possibility of coaching in the the National Football League after spending 14 seasons as a player, was given that chance by Polian and then-head coach Tony Dungy, who hired Reich as a coaching intern.
Twelve years later, that small role has transformed into the opportunity of a lifetime.
The Colts on Sunday announced they have hired Reich to be their head coach, as he looks to bring a proud franchise back to its winning ways, and quickly.
Reich returns to Indy from Philadelphia, where he had spent the last two seasons as the Eagles' offensive coordinator. Just one week ago, the team earned its first-ever Super Bowl victory, a 41-33 win over the New England Patriots.
He got to that point, and to his new office at the Colts' 56th Street headquarters, with tons of hard work.
Reich spent two seasons as a coaching intern — assisting the team in its victory over the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI — before earning a promotion in 2008 to be an offensive assistant coach. The next season, he was promoted once again, this time as the Colts' quarterbacks coach, where he was tasked with keeping the legendary Peyton Manning on his game — and vice versa.
Reich would spend two seasons as Manning's position coach, which ended up being arguably the two best years of his career in Indianapolis. In 2009, Manning was named league Most Valuable Player after completing 393-of-571 passing attempts (for a career-best 68.8 completion percentage) with 4,500 yards and 33 touchdowns, and the Colts advanced all the way to Super Bowl XLIV against the New Orleans Saints.
In 2010, Manning threw for a then-career-best 4,700 passing yards in his last full season in Indianapolis.
Manning said Reich's playing experience made it easy to connect with him as a coach.
"Frank has got a lot of football knowledge," Manning said back in 2009. "I really think at this point in my career, being a veteran I like having somebody that has played longer than me, who has actually played the game and knows what is going on.
"He is a tireless worker," Manning continued. "He is a grinder. He is a guy that is going to be over there late at night. He and I text each other all the time, 'Hey check out the Buffalo game, play number 40. That is a look we might see.' I like that. I like a guy that is constantly got football on his mind and thinking about helping me. I am grateful for that kind of effort. I lean on Frank. I ask him a lot of questions and he is very comforting to me.
Reich moved on to become the Colts' wide receivers coach in 2011 before taking the same position with the Arizona Cardinals in 2012.
In 2013, he moved on to the San Diego Chargers to work with Philip Rivers as his quarterbacks coach, before starting a two-year stint as their offensive coordinator. In 2016, he joined Doug Pederson's new staff with the Eagles, also as his offensive coordinator.
In a statement released Sunday, Pederson said Reich is "a tremendous coach and very deserving of this opportunity" with the Colts.
"He was a valuable member of our staff and we have all benefited from working with him over the last two years," Pederson said. "As good as he is as a leader and teacher, he's an even better person. We could not be more excited for him as he takes this next step in his career and we wish him and his family all the best."
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