By Joseph Santoliquito
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Garrett Reid always seemed to be happiest around football. Whether it was playing at Harriton High School, where his father attended every game trying to be as inconspicuous as possible standing near an end zone or tucked in a corner of the stands, or the times he would bounce around the Eagles’ locker room, especially after a victory.
His greatest joy derived from being around football, which meant being around his dad and his family.
But when Eagles general manager Howie Roseman announced Sunday morning that Garrett Reid, the eldest son of Eagles coach Andy Reid, was found dead in his Lehigh dorm room at training camp, it came as a surreal shock.
Garrett was 29.
Before its Sunday morning practice, the Eagles gathered for a prayer and the media there noted that Andy Reid was absent from the team’s morning walk-through. That’s when Roseman announced that Garrett was found dead on Sunday morning in his room at the team’s Lehigh University training camp facility.
“I have some heartbreaking news to share with you all,” said a very emotional Roseman, his voice cracking to get the news out. “It is with great sadness that I tell you that Garrett Reid, the oldest son of Coach Reid, was found dead this morning in his room here in training camp. It is a tough morning for all of us in the Eagles family. Garrett grew up with this team, and that makes this news even harder for us to process. Our hearts go out to Andy, Tammy, Britt, Spencer, Crosby and Drew Ann. Coach has spent the morning informing his family.
“We ask sincerely that you respect the family’s privacy during this time … From a football perspective, I can tell you that Andy has asked that we go forward with training camp. On a personal note, we’ve been with Andy for a long time. He’s always been strong for us; we’re going to be strong for him right now. As a father and a friend, we’re all hurting.”
Garrett had been through a lot in his young life—and overcame a lot. But he always found great joy playing football, and being around Eagles’ training camp and the team’s NovaCare practice facility.
He loved being Andy Reid’s son. The son of a football coach.
“You can say football is in the blood,” Garrett once said back in the late-1990s, when he was a two-way lineman for Harriton High School. “I love being the son of a football coach, I love talking football with my father. It doesn’t matter if it’s my games or his games; we’re always bouncing things off of each other.
“I think the biggest kick my dad gets is watching me and Britt play. I think being around the game and having a dad as a coach has really helped us both tremendously. People tell us all of the time we know what we’re doing, ‘You play like the son of a coach.’ To me, that’s a great compliment. The other thing about my dad is he’s not afraid to point something out to us. My dad has one of the greatest jobs in the world and I know he’s always watching me. It’s great to share this with my dad.”
Garrett had his issues in the past, which have been well documented with a history of drug problems. But it’s something Garrett appeared to correct and he seemed clean and happy over the last few years. Britt, who also battled substance abuse in his past, has been working as a graduate assistant coach at Temple. Garrett and Britt took great pride in aiding Spencer Reid, Andy Reid’s youngest child, garner a football scholarship to Temple.
“My brothers pound on me,” Spencer said, laughing, a few years ago, when he was playing for St. Joseph’s Prep. “They make sure I’m doing everything right. My dad points out a lot of things, but my brothers are very important to me. We’re a football family. We’re always talking football.”
Recently, Garrett seemed to be in a great place in his life. He was helping his father and working with the Eagles’ strength and conditioning. He always appeared to be upbeat in the Eagles’ locker room, especially after his father’s team had won.
Before this season, Garrett was filled with optimism, “I love it,” Garrett said. “We’re looking forward to a great season.”
Lehigh University Chief of Police Edward Shupp said that Garrett’s body was found in his dorm room at training camp, following a 911 call placed at 7:20 a.m. Shupp included that Sunday morning there was no evidence of foul play. The coroner’s office said that an investigation was ongoing.
A past demon may have enticed Garrett one last time, but the lasting image Andy Reid may forever embrace is walking off a football field with his arm around Garrett’s shoulder after a game as the sun set on an autumn Saturday afternoon.
Eagles’ players, past and present, tweeted on Garrett’s death:
Michael Vick: “My condolences go out to Coach Reid and his family. Stay strong and we LOVE you coach.”
DeSean Jackson: My blessings go out to the Reid family … We lost a close 1 this morning.”
Brian Dawkins: “My prayers 4 strength & Healing Father, 4 Coach Reid, Tammy, and Family. RIP Garrett!!!”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell:
“We are deeply saddened by the news about Garrett Reid. Our thoughts and prayers are with Andy, Tammy and their family. We will support them and the Eagles in any way we can through this difficult time.”
Mike and Kathy Holmgren:
“Andy and Tammy have been great friends to us for many years. Our prayers are with them and their family during this very difficult time.”
Browns Head Coach Pat Shurmur:
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Andy, Tammy and the entire Reid family. Those of us who worked so long in Philadelphia knew Garrett very well. Andy is a friend and mentor to many of us here at the Browns and we all are thinking about him and his family during this tragic time.”
Saints Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo:
“Maria and I are greatly saddened by this unexpected news. Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to Andy, Tammy and their family during this very difficult time.”
Cardinals Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt:
“All of us in the NFL community send our deepest sympathy and condolences to Andy & Tammy. We share their grief and are ready to support them in any way possible during what is obviously an incredibly difficult time for them and their family.”
Cardinals QB Kevin Kolb:
“Anyone that’s been around Andy for any amount of time knows how important family is and how much his kids mean to him. This is devastating news. My heart goes out to Andy and Tammy. My thoughts and prayers are with all of them right now.”
Colts GM Ryan Grigson:
“I am deeply saddened by this tragic news. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Reid family. They are a special family led by two extremely strong and loving parents in Coach and his wife Tammy. I ask that the entire Colt’s nation and football fans everywhere lift Coach Reid and his family up in prayer during this difficult time.”
“I was both shocked and saddened when I heard the news this morning of Garrett’s passing. During my time [in Philadelphia], both Garrett and Britt spent a lot of time around the football team and I know how much Andy loves them. I spent a lot of time with Andy and his family; we had a great friendship … we still do. My heart goes out to Andy, Tammy and the rest of the Reid family. I cannot imagine what they are feeling right now. God be with them.”
“Words cannot express my sadness upon hearing the tragic news this morning. I’ve known Garrett since he was a teenager and saw him grow up amongst the Eagles family. It’s hard to comprehend how heartbreaking it must feel to lose a child. My deepest condolences go out to Andy, Tammy and their entire family.”
Eagles chairman/CEO Jeffrey Lurie provided the following statement in the wake of the passing of Garrett Reid, the 29-year-old son of head coach Andy Reid:
“Today is one of life’s tough days. I think I’ll just tell you a little bit of my conversations with Andy and my conversations with the team. Andy is, he’s a rock solid man. I think what makes him a great coach is his combination of compassion, feeling and strength. Today, he exhibited it all. It’s unimaginable the pain. We’ve all suffered; most of us have suffered tragedy in our lives. Losing a son is unimaginable, losing a child is unimaginable, the pain. Yet, he is rock solid. All he wanted to talk to me about was a couple of things, which was how incredibly excited he is for this football team, that’s been obvious I think from the beginning of training camp to all of us. But he wanted me to know that. Secondly, that he treasures these practices and he feels bad he’s going to not be at practice today or probably tomorrow and he just think they’re incredibly important. At the same time, this is a father grieving and fully grieving.
“I’ve watched Andy try so hard with his family over the years. He just, he cares so much about his family that it’s a hard one. You see a man that really cares and sometimes what happens, happens in life. As he and I discussed, life throws you curveballs and the thing to do, and I’ve always felt this and I think Andy feels the same way, is you gain from loss, you gain from tragedy. I always think that there’s no way today that I would own an NFL team if I hadn’t lost my dad when I was 9, and it was shocking. It made me stronger. There are choices to be made when tragedy happens, you can become stronger and even more focused and learn from it and treat live as a challenge, or you can bow down. Andy is somebody, he said to me, I’m going to hit that curveball and hit it out of the park, on the field and off the field. That’s the message that he wanted me to have.
“I think it’s what makes him so dedicated. He loves his players. He loves his coaches. He feels so bad that he’s even interfering with their success today, tomorrow. He knows they are in good hands with our coaches, but actually in this moment of terrible pain he’s actually reaching out to all of us. You know that rock-solid guy who takes the bullets after games and all of that, but as I said to the players, ‘You have to accept the grief and the tears and at the same time gather the strength and the desire to be excellent. Not just in football, but in life.’
“You’re dealing with a coach, we’ve been together longer than any owner and head coach tandem in the NFL and his family. I knew Garrett when he was 14, 15 years old, all of his kids. The thing with Andy is he’s strong and rock solid, but deep down he’s a teddy bear. And the players who know him know that really well. All of us that know him know that really, really well. It’s why he’s so effective. Is he perfect? No one is, but that combination again of strength and tenderness is very, very special.
“Today, my feeling is between myself, and all of us who are around him and the players, we’ve just got to be supportive. We’re going to be fine, but I want him to be fine. My heart goes out to Tammy and his family and at the same time as the players have said to me; we are going to practice hard, focus. When he’s not here, do what he wants. I expect Andy to be coaching this week and back. He feels that way and he is very, very focused on both his family and his profession. I can’t think of anything else to say except when you’re dealing with a family in pain; be gentle, and at the same time understand at times they are going to exhibit strength because that’s what they need to do. I think that’s what we all need to do.
“Thank you for taking the time and I do look forward to having a press conference with you guys over and above and separate before the regular season, but this is a tough day. Thank you very much.”