NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Sunday’s practice was tougher than any other for the Philadelphia Eagles. After all, sadness, shock, and sorrow beyond anyone’s belief hovered over their training camp site on a day when they lost “a part of the family.”
Garrett Reid, the troubled 29-year-old son of Eagles coach Andy Reid, was found dead Sunday in a dorm room at the club’s Lehigh University training camp, where he spent many summers hanging out with his father’s team.
Police said the death was not suspicious, and the cause was under investigation. The coach’s oldest son had a long history of drug problems, once admitting “I liked being a drug dealer” and went to prison for a heroin-fueled car crash.
The Jets and Giants joined many in the sports world in offering their condolences.
“Our prayers and deepest condolences go out to Andy Reid and his wife, Tammy, on the loss of their son, Garrett,” Jets owner Woody Johnson said in a statement. “They are part of the NFL family and I want them to know that we at the New York Jets are here for them and offer our full support during this difficult time.”
“We were saddened to learn of passing of Garrett Reid this morning,” the Giants tweeted. “Andy Reid and his family are in our thoughts and prayers.”
Reid’s death, of course, stunned the Eagles, who took the field only because their coach wanted them to continue with their scheduled practices.
Michael Vick, Nnamdi Asomugha and Jason Avant spoke briefly following the afternoon practice, each offering prayers and condolences to the Reid family. Owner Jeffrey Lurie fought back tears when talking to reporters and general manager Howie Roseman broke down after delivering the news in the morning.
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday in Broomall, Pa. Tuesday is a scheduled day off from camp, so the team will be in attendance.
A few players went out to dinner later in the evening and took a solemn, solitary moment to toast Garrett Reid, calling him “a part of the family.”
“This is a very difficult situation for us all to deal with,” Vick said. “Coach has always been a great supporter of us, as a team, as an organization. He’s been a rock for us and a big teddy bear for us, so we’re going to lean on him and we’re going to be there for him and we’re going to stay strong for him until he comes back and can lead us on.”
Lurie met with the team on the field and told reporters afterward he expected Reid back this week, ending any speculation the coach may not return.
Reid, a father of five, took a leave of absence during the 2007 offseason to spend more time with his family after Garrett and his second-oldest son, Britt, were sentenced to prison on the same day for separate incidents.
The Eagles play host to Pittsburgh in the preseason opener on Thursday night.
“I’ve watched Andy try so hard with his family over the years,” Lurie said. “You see a man that really cares. 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’re in good hands with our coaches, but actually in this moment of terrible pain, he’s reaching out to all of us.”
The police chief at Lehigh, Edward Shupp, said a 911 call was made at 7:20 a.m. about Reid, and that he was dead when a policeman arrived at the campus dormitory. The police and the Northampton County coroner were investigating.
Shupp said “there were no suspicious activities.” Police didn’t return later telephone calls for comment, and didn’t say who found Garrett Reid or whether any clues to his death were found in his room.
Reid had been staying at the camp where he assisted the Eagles’ strength coaches in an unofficial capacity, a not-uncommon sort of role for NFL coaches’ sons. He was frequently seen on the sideline at practices and in the locker room after games. Many of the coaches and staff stay in the Lehigh dorms.
He seemed to have rebounded from a yearslong struggle with drug abuse that landed him in prison.
“Garrett was always smiling and laughing no matter what,” Eagles receiver Chad Hall wrote on Twitter. “He was very caring and selfless. An overall great person. You will NOT be forgotten!”
Garrett Reid was sentenced to nearly two years for a 2007 high-speed car crash while he was high on heroin that injured another driver. Police found heroin and more than 200 pills in his car. When he surrendered to begin his sentence, prison guards found Reid had tried to smuggle prescription pills into jail.
In the midst of his legal troubles, Reid said he “got a thrill” out of being a drug dealer in a lower-income neighborhood just a few miles from his parents’ suburban Villanova mansion.
“I liked being the rich kid in that area and having my own high-status life,” Reid told a probation officer, according to court testimony in November 2007. “I could go anywhere in the `hood. They all knew who I was. I enjoyed it. I liked being a drug dealer.”
At his sentencing hearing, Reid told the judge: “I don’t want to die doing drugs. I don’t want to be that kid who was the son of the head coach of the Eagles, who was spoiled and on drugs and OD’d and just faded into oblivion.”
His younger brother, Britt, also had problems with drug use and was arrested on the same day as Garrett in 2007 for a road-rage encounter. Police discovered weapons and drugs in Britt Reid’s vehicle.
“I knew Garrett when he was 14, 15 years old, all of his kids,” Lurie said. “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. No one is. But that combination of, again, strength and tenderness is very, very special.”
The Eagles practiced without their coach for the first time since 2007. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and defensive coordinator Juan Castillo will oversee the team until Reid returns.
“Andy is a rock and he’s given all of us, this football team, all the coaches, administration, equipment men, trainers, great support for many, many years and it’s just very simple,” Mornhinweg said. “We’re here to support him now.”
Expressions of sympathy came from everywhere around the league and across the sports world.
“We are deeply saddened by the news about Garrett Reid,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “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.”
Miami Dolphins coach Joe Philbin experienced similar tragedy last season when he was offensive coordinator with Green Bay. Philbin’s 21-year-old son was drunk and had marijuana in his system when he fell into a Wisconsin river and drowned, police said.
Philbin returned to coaching a couple days later and the Packers lost to the Giants in a divisional playoff game.
“The loss of a child and a sibling is absolutely devastating to a family,” Philbin said. “Our hearts go out to Andy and Tammy Reid as they mourn the loss of their precious son, Garrett.”
The Philadelphia Phillies held a moment of silence for Garrett Reid before their game against Arizona.
“I really feel for him,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “I’m going to send him a message that I’m sorry. I’ve always had a lot of respect for Andy.”
Andy Reid is in his 14th season in Philadelphia. He’s led the Eagles to nine playoff appearances, six NFC East titles, five conference championship games and one Super Bowl loss.
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