233 miles is all that separates Kirkwood High School (Mo) from Arrowhead Stadium.
Kirkwood, a suburb of St. Louis, Mo., has produced several NFL players and even actor Scott Bakula, but the alum that had his name in the headlines on Wednesday was the Kansas City Chiefs' newest receiver, former Philadelphia Eagle Jeremy Maclin.
For Maclin, the decision to come back to the Midwest wasn't just about the proximity to family and his roots, but because of the faces he'd see every day at work as well.
"In the back of my mind, it was either I was going stay in Philadelphia or come to Kansas City," Maclin said of his free agent status. "Both of those situations made sense. I think with my personality and kind of the way I am, I think this fits me a little better.
"And then also coach (Andy) Reid, (receivers coach David) Culley, (offensive coordinator) Doug (Pederson), a lot of guys who I had a chance to build relationships with in Philadelphia are here.
"It just felt like home. It is home and I'm excited about that."
Maclin spent four years in Philadelphia with much of the Chiefs' current staff under coach Reid (2009-12), who left in 2013 for Kansas City and brought many familiar faces with him.
Maclin and the Philly connection (2009-14)
|Name||Position w/ PHI||Years w/ Maclin||Current position w/ KC|
|Andy Reid||Head Coach||2009-12||Head Coach|
|David Culley||WRs, Senior Offensive Asst.||2009-12||Asst. Head Coach/Wide Receivers|
|Rick Burkholder||Head Trainer||2009-12||Head Trainer|
|Tom Melvin||Tes, Off. Asst., Quality control||2009-12||Tight Ends Coach|
|Mike Frazier||Statistical Analysis Coordinator||2009-12||Statistical Analysis Coordinator|
|Tommy Brasher||Defensive Line||2012||Defensive Line Coach|
|Aaron Borgmann||Athletic Trainer||2009-12||Assistant Trainer|
|Brett Veach||Asst. to Head Coach, Scout||2009-12||Pro and College Personnel Analyst|
|Barry Rubin||Strength and Conditioning||2009-12||Strength and Conditioning|
|Doug Pederson||Quality Control, QBs||2009-12||Offensive Coordinator|
|Corey Matthaei||Asst. to Head Coach||2009-12||Assistant Quarterbacks Coach|
|Eugene Chung||OL/Asst. OL coach||2009-12||Assistant Offensive Line|
|Matt Nagy||Coach Asst./Quality control||2010-12||Quarterbacks Coach|
|Travis Crittenden||Asst. Strength and Conditioning||2012||Asst. Strength and Conditioning|
"These are great guys," Maclin said of those waiting for him when he arrived in Kansas City. "These are my type of people. These are guys that drafted me in the first round, so it was cool. It was cool to see Doug (Pederson), cool to see (David) Culley, Matt (Nagy), Tom (Melvin)—all the guys. I'm excited about it."
For Maclin, the reunion with those who were there for him at the beginning of his NFL career was a big draw to Kansas City.
"As good of a player as he is, he's an even a better person than that," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "So all the success he's had in this league, you'll see even more with the leadership and the competitiveness he'll show on the field."
As a rookie, Maclin had 56 receptions for 773 yards and four touchdowns with the Eagles.
Culley, who was the Eagles receivers coach when Maclin entered the NFL, remembered being surprised they even had a shot at him during the 2009 NFL Draft.
"We never thought that he'd be in that position," Culley recalled. "We thought he'd be gone, but when he was there (at No. 19), he was a no-brainer for us to grab him because we knew he was a special player, not only on the field, but he was a heck of a person off the field.
"We knew we had somebody special."
Not long after he arrived in Philadelphia, Culley said Maclin benefitted from some of the veterans he had around him.
"I remember Kevin Curtis was a guy who had played with the Rams and had been in the league a few years that we got in free agency," Culley recalled of that group. "Reggie Brown was a guy from the University of Georgia that we had drafted. He had played three or four years.
Jeremy Maclin at the podium with John Dorsey and Andy Reid for his welcoming press conference.
"They had been there. They knew how the game was played. Maclin, having those guys there, started to see the process. It's not just about your ability; it's about going through the process. It's about learning how to do certain things and I think that was a tremendous help for him."
For Culley, one particular conversation early in Maclin's rookie year stood out to him.
"I said 'You probably some day will be as good as those guys,'" Culley said of the veteran receivers on that Eagles team. "He says 'Some day? I am now.' I just remember saying to him, 'Yeah, but right now at this level, you have to earn the right to do that."
Culley loved that attitude from his young receiver.
"You love that," he noted. "That's part of the position, that's part of what makes those guys special and not in a selfish way, but in a team way. They always look at things and say 'OK, the more times you put the ball in my hands, the better opportunity we're going to have to score, the better opportunity our team is going to have.'"
Consequently, Maclin took advantage when the ball was put in his hands. In four years with Reid, Culley and company (2009-12), Maclin had 258 receptions for 3,453 yards and 26 touchdowns for the Eagles.
"I just remember his speed, his explosiveness and his willingness to learn—those three things sort of separated him from the rest of the group," Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson recalled of a young Maclin.
Six years after being surprised he was available with the No. 19 overall pick in the 2009 draft, Culley believes the Chiefs found the right guy once again.
Photos from the career of Chiefs WR Jeremy Maclin
"For the whole Chiefs Kingdom, (Maclin) is the kind of player and the kind of person that you want to build with," he said. "You know he can take you to where you want to go and we're very excited about that."
For Maclin, the fit into this offense couldn't be better.
"He has a natural gift to run the types of routes that we run here in Kansas City," Pederson said. "That will be valuable for the young guys to see how that's done. He also brings familiarity with the terminology in our offense.
"It's just important now, that when Alex (Smith) and the guys get in here next month, they begin right away developing that rapport, that camaraderie and that connection."
Simply connecting the dots of Maclin's history with Reid as a reason of the reunion in Kansas City is short-changing the bigger picture, the way Reid develops relationships with his players.
"I think he genuinely cares about his players," Maclin said of Reid. "I think as a player, that's what you want. He's got a great offensive mind and he has the ability to put guys in positions to be successful and utilize their skill set.
"I'm excited about what he has in store for me and I'm just ready to help this team win some games."
The proximity to family and friends, along with the established relationships with the staff he's going to see every day, made it a perfect situation for Maclin.
"I was excited to come back here and play in front of fans that have seen me play in college and that really appreciated me," Maclin said. "Being so close to home and have my family and friends come up and see me play, it was just the right move at the right time for myself and my family.
"You couldn't have written a better script."