PHILADELPHIA -- In 2009, after his release from federal prison, Michael Vick didn't know if any NFL team would give him a second chance.
When his phone finally rang, it was Andy Reid.
"I'll never forget the opportunities given to me by this organization and by Andy Reid," Vick said Tuesday. "That will never change."
On Thursday night, Vick will take the field with Reid once again standing on the sideline. Only this time, the man he describes as a lifelong friend will be wearing the bright red gear of the Kansas City Chiefs. For Vick and many of the Philadelphia Eagles players drafted and signed by Reid, it will be an unusual sight.
"It's different, it's definitely different, knowing Coach Reid is on the other side," Vick said. "That's just where our lives took us. That's just the situation we're in right now."
Their paths to the current situation are intertwined. Vick originally signed a two-year contract. He would be the third-team quarterback, just getting back to the game after two seasons away, behind Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb.
By the end of that season, though, Reid decided to move on from McNabb, his franchise quarterback for a decade. Kolb was anointed the starter with Vick as his backup. One week into the 2010 season, Kolb was sidelined with a concussion and Vick stepped back into a starting role.
But with Vick as his quarterback, Reid's record got worse each season, from 10-6 in 2010 to 8-8 in 2011 to 4-12 last season. Reid was fired and replaced by Chip Kelly. Vick was brought back on a one-year deal and had to win the starting job in training camp.
Vick, DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy, the Eagles' three key skill players, are off to remarkable starts under Kelly. All three are among the league leaders at their positions. The offense has scored 63 points in two games.
But while they are experiencing a professional resurgence under the new coach, they all still have strong personal ties to the old one.
"Andy Reid is a man who will go down in history, in my book, as one of the greatest coaches of all time and one of the greatest men I've ever met," Vick said.
"There are so many good things I could say about him," McCoy said. "Excellent person. I think people don't really realize how good of a person he really was. ... We definitely miss him, but I mean, it's football. It's a business."
"Coach Reid is a father figure to me," said Jackson, who was once suspended by Reid for a game for breaking team rules. "He's a great guy, and we've been keeping in contact throughout the offseason and the preseason. He texted me after last week's game, so it's going to be great to see him come back."