Chiefs head coach Andy Reid reacts against the Houston Texans during...

Chiefs head coach Andy Reid reacts against the Houston Texans during the second quarter in the AFC Divisional playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on Jan. 12, 2020. Credit: Getty Images/Jamie Squire


The scars never really do go away.  Not for Andy Reid.  And not for Kyle Shanahan.

For Reid, it is the one glaring omission on his otherwise magnificent resume.

For Shanahan, it is the game that will forever haunt him.

Even a win in Super Bowl LIV on Sunday won’t fully erase the past heartbreak for either man.

Reid has won more regular-season games — 207 — than all but a half-dozen coaches in NFL history, but he still hasn’t won a Vince Lombardi Trophy. He had the chance once with the Eagles but lost to the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX.

“You remember all the losses,” Reid said. “The crazy part about this business is you remember all those.”

And while Shanahan, 40, certainly is ahead of the curve by getting to the Super Bowl as a head coach only three years into his tenure with the 49ers, 28-3 still pains him. It is a constant reminder of just how close he came to winning a Super Bowl as the Falcons’ gifted offensive coordinator.

The Falcons blew that 28-3 lead over the Patriots in Super Bowl LI, losing in overtime, 34-28.

Two coaches’ hearts broken, both times by the greatest team in NFL history: the Patriots.

One of them will get a measure of redemption in Super Bowl LIV on Sunday when Reid’s Chiefs face Shanahan’s 49ers at Hard Rock Stadium.

Reid clearly is the sentimental favorite, especially after overcoming so much to get this far again. He’s 61, is beloved by nearly every single one of the thousands of players he has coached during a career spanning nearly four decades and now has his best chance of winning it all.

He has developed quarterback Patrick Mahomes into a star who has carried the Chiefs’ offense on his back to the Super Bowl. Mahomes has sparked back-to-back comeback wins over the Texans and Titans in the playoffs with the kind of resourcefulness and pizzazz only the great ones possess.

Reid also made the difficult yet unavoidable decision to part ways with his longtime defensive coordinator, Bob Sutton, after last season’s overtime loss to the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. He hired his former assistant with the Eagles, Steve Spagnuolo, who has done for the Chiefs what he did for the Giants in 2007: guide his defense to a Super Bowl berth in his first season.

Reid has received well wishes from dozens, maybe hundreds of people with whom he’s crossed paths over the years.

“I do appreciate all of that,” he said. “The people who have reached out, it’s been great. It’s been an unbelievable experience.”

But there is more work to be done.

“They also know I’m going to get ready for the game. It’s that time,” he said. “There are a lot of outside influences that take place, and you’ve got to kind of stay focused on it. When it’s all said and done, you can deal with all that. But right now, I try to stay as tunnel vision as possible.”

Perhaps it is fitting that Reid controls the fate not only of his own reputation but that of the Chiefs. Like the coach, the franchise has experienced its share of disappointments in the 50 years since it won its only Super Bowl title.

Said Reid, “There’s great history here, when you think about [Chiefs founder] Lamar Hunt and all he did for the National Football League — for the AFL and the merger of the two leagues — and how he handled himself after the merger took place, the leadership he presented there.

“Then you look about where [Hunt’s son] Clark Hunt has taken it from there. He’s done a great job with it. It’s family-strong; you know that. You get a great feeling of foundation. And then you look at our players — they feel that.”

Shanahan, the son of two-time Super Bowl-winning coach Mike Shanahan of the Broncos, carries a different burden but one that’s equally challenging. Start with his Super Bowl demons.

Shanahan certainly can’t be blamed for the Falcons’ defensive shortcomings, but there was plenty of second-guessing of his play-calling in Atlanta’s loss to the Patriots. Especially on a series that could have iced the game but instead helped fuel New England’s frantic comeback.

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan watches during the second half...

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan watches during the second half against the Steelers in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sept. 22, 2019. Credit: AP/Tony Avelar

Leading 28-20, Atlanta had driven to the Patriots’ 22-yard line. Conventional wisdom suggested the Falcons should have stayed with the running game, bled time off the clock and at least attempted a field goal to put them up two scores. But after a first-down run that lost a yard, Shanahan had Matt Ryan drop back on second down, and he was sacked for a 12-yard loss.

On third-and-23 from the Patriots’ 35, the Falcons were flagged for holding, pushing the ball back to the 45. An incomplete pass was followed by a punt. Soon it was 28-28, and not long after that, the Patriots had yet another title.

“The way it came down on me personally, I didn’t react to that, I think, the way people would expect, because there were definitely parts in that Super Bowl that I would love to have back and stuff I was very hard on myself,” Shanahan said. “But the whole narrative of if I would’ve just ran it, we would’ve won. I know that wasn’t the case . . . You’ve got to deal with that and listen to other people, but it was nice to be able to move on and move out here and just keep working.”

Now comes his chance at redemption.

“I’m glad I’m going to get the chance to go back,” he said.

Two coaches with so much on the line, and only one who will get to redefine his legacy.