Yesterday, there was an unspeakable tragedy at Lehigh University where the Philadelphia Eagles practice. Garrett Reid, the son of Eagles coach Andy Reid, died in his dorm room at age 29. Reid’s son had battled drug problems, and he had spent time in jail. There was no immediate cause of death.
The word was that he was fighting to overcome his past, which makes yesterday even sadder. Either way, the support that came from the NFL community was astounding, which hopefully gave Reid some solace. In fact, it was heart-warming to see so many reach out to offer prayers or simply kind words to Reid, who obviously stayed away from practice.
Yet owner Jeffrey Lurie said Reid will be back at practice this week. Reid cares about football, he cares about work, he clearly cares about his team, and he wants to be back. I don’t know how he will do it, but Reid will be back coaching the Eagles sooner rather than later.
He will talk about his son and loss and moving on, and then he will begin coaching. How will he do it? He will start doing regular things, familiar things, and that will take up his attention for the moment. No doubt, Reid will embrace the routine, embrace some semblance of normalcy when his world was flipped upside down. When when we encounter troubles, often losing one’s self in work will provide a reprieve. I know it does for me. I hope it does for Reid.
It’s a shame that it takes a terrible tragedy to bring out so much good in people. But that’s what happened yesterday. The Eagles grieved together and leaned on each other, with teammates stung like family members. We spend time writing about or talking about teams gelling, but what we saw yesterday was the Eagles doing that. I don’t know how good of a team they will be (though I assume very, very good), but their season just took on a lot deeper meaning.
Their coach is human, they saw that. So are they, which was evident in their reaction. Teams can bond in odd ways, and I won’t be surprised if the Eagles did just that. When Reid comes back, whenever he comes back, they will be closer. Being there for their coach also means being stronger for him. I also wouldn’t be surprised if Reid throws himself into coaching even moreso than before.
The Patriots last season dealt with sadness, as the death of Myra Kraft permeated the season. I got the feeling it gave the players the sense they were playing for something extra. Perhaps Garrett Reid’s passing will do the same. It’s a terrible thing, but if a morsel of good can come of it, that’s a positive.
When discussing his own difficulties and loss, Lurie said, “It made me stronger. There’s choices to be made when tragedy happens. You can become stronger and even more focused and learn from it and treat life as a challenge.”
The hope is that that happens with not just with Reid but also with the Eagles as a team. If that played out on the field, that’s nice. If the renewed strength assists their coach in dealing with something unimaginable, that’s even better. No, they aren’t his family. But they will feel like his family, which is why this loss may have changed things for the Eagles. Here’s hoping they can turn it into a positive, for Reid and for the team.