If not for a pandemic, Ted Pallas was bound for Super Bowl 55.
It wasn’t so much to root on a team, but for a childhood chum: Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid.
“I’ve know him since we were 5-6 years old,” said Pallas, a longtime Del Mar resident.
The pair lived five houses down from each other in Los Angeles. Pallas and Reid shared the same elementary and junior high schools, then became standout athletes at Marshall High.
While Reid was a big shot in football, Pallas stood out on the mound although he really wanted to join Reid on the gridiron.
“But the baseball coach wouldn’t let me play football,” Pallas said. “He said, ‘Your future is in baseball,’ and he ended up being a smart guy because I got a scholarship to Pepperdine.”
Pallas was on the first Waves squad to advance to the College World Series in 1979 and the team was inducted into Pepperdine’s athletic Hall of Fame.
It was a shame to Pallas seeing what happened at the Super Bowl as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the sputtering Chiefs, 31-9.
“I’ve been watching football forever and anytime a team has to settle for field goals it is usually going to lose,” Pallas, 61, said. “You have to take advantage of those red zone possessions.”
But K.C. didn’t and the Buccaneers’ Tom Brady made the Chiefs pay. That prevented Pallas’ pal from winning consecutive Super Bowl titles as Brady claimed his seventh.
“It shows you two things,” Pallas said. “That it’s hard to repeat in sports, especially in football. And Tom Brady will likely go down as the greatest athlete in America.”
Reid was a presence on Pallas’ block.
“He was so much bigger than everybody else, but he handled it so well,” Pallas said. “A lot of kids would rag on him because he was — in a lot of people’s eyes — different. He was probably 6 feet, 220 pounds when he was 12 years old. He was a man.”
That was evident in a YouTube video where Reid is competing at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum in the Punt, Pass and Kick event. Reid had to borrow a Rams player’s uniform to wear in the competition.
Pallas, who owns an audiovisual company, said while Reid’s competitive fire always burns, it doesn’t extinguish his kindness.
“With Andy, what you see is what you get,” Pallas said. “He is the nicest guy there is and he’s funny.”
When they connect, football is seldom discussed.
“When we get together, we really are not talking football most of the time,” Pallas said. “We make it a point to not say, ‘What were you thinking when they threw that pass?’ Instead, we talk about life and the old days.”
Reid never shed his Southern California persona despite NFL coaching stops in Green Bay, Philadelphia and Kansas City. Reid often wears shorts when long johns are more appropriate.
For big wins, Reid occasionally has Tommy’s chili and cheeseburgers flown in from L.A. to celebrate.
Reid’s hunger to mesh with others is among his attributes. So are his high-scoring offenses, although K.C. didn’t reach the end zone against the Bucs.
Reid stops in his Capistrano Beach home for the offseason, a place where Pallas visits him and finds the same Andy Reid that he’s known for years. Reid’s success didn’t rob him of his humility.
“It hasn’t fazed him one bit,” Pallas said. “He’s still the nicest guy.
“But obviously I’m feeling for him after Sunday’s game. I know he will probably take a week off and get right back at it. I think they can go to the Super Bowl again next year.”
If so, Reid won’t be far from home and Pallas promises to attend the game at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. Unlike when they were tykes, the game will start, and not end, when the lights come on.