By Steve Silverman
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The knee-jerk reaction is to criticize Andy Reid.

For those on the outside, it seems like Reid is just another football coach who has tunnel vision.

He seems so obsessed with his job as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles that he allows his familial responsibilities to go wanting.

That’s how a lot of people want to characterize Reid following the tragic death of his oldest son Garrett. He had been helping out the team in training camp, but Garrett Reid was found dead in his dorm room at Eagle training camp Sunday.

Reid had previously endured drug problems in the past, so it seemed to some outside observers that Reid cared more about his team than his family.

The truth of the matter is that nobody outside his family knows whether Reid is a good father or not. Reid probably will have to struggle with that intensely personal question for the rest of his life. A positive or negative word on a talk show or from a columnist won’t matter a hill of beans in this matter – nor should it.

But one thing that has to be remembered is that Garrett Reid was 29 at the time of his death. He was not a child. He was not a teenager. He was not fresh out of college.

He was a young man who had endured problems in his life and appeared to be turning things around. His cause of death has not been determined as of yet. Autopsy results may or may not shed light on how he died.

One thing that can be said about Reid is that he is a thoughtful man as well as an intelligent football coach. He is not known for expansive answers when he talks to the media in a group setting, but when he was an assistant coach in Green Bay under Mike Holmgren, he would occasionally give thoughtful answers that indicated he was not only knowledgeable about football, but he was always very sensitive and had real concerns about people when he interacted with them.

In other words, he cared about more than winning football games and he always realized that leading football players was about relating to people as individuals as much as it was about giving them favorable matchups.

That’s the area that Reid usually excels. He can often maximize his team’s biggest advantages and minimize the mismatches. But he is not a robot or an automaton. He cares about people as individuals and he is hurting badly right now.

Nobody should assume that Reid didn’t do everything he could for his son. Putting that kind of label on Reid as a human being would make this tragedy so much worse.

Reid is in tremendous pain because he is dealing with the worst thing that can happen to any parent. That pain will never go away and he will have to contend with it for the rest of his life.

It doesn’t matter that he is one of the most successful and longest-tenured coaches in the NFL. He is enduring the pain of the tragic loss of his oldest son.

Whether he returns to work in a few days, a few weeks or a few months is his decision. He has to do what is best for himself and his family.

Some critics will go for the knee-jerk response and figure he cared more about his job than his family. They come to this conclusion without any evidence.

That kind of speculation only makes a personal tragedy that much worse.

Is Andy Reid one of the best coaches in the NFL? Let us know below in the comments section.