Andy Reid was back at Eagles practice Wednesday. The coach pulled up in his SUV, just like he had every day at training camp before his son Garrett tragically died from an apparent drug overdose.
The coach ran the Eagles’ morning walk-through, then addressed the media. There was no overflow of emotion, but Reid stood in front of the masses as a self-admitted “humbled man.”
"I'm a humble man standing before you, very humble man," Reid said. "I'm humble because the outpouring — not only from the media, but our football team, from the fans, it was unbelievable. Unbelievable.”
Reid has been called a “rock” by his many adoring peers and players in the past few days. That moniker was on full display at Lehigh. He was emotional. He was open and honest. Still, Reid never broke down, never shed a tear.
Some people have chastised Reid for coming back to the sideline too soon. However, the man that has commanded the Eagles for 14 seasons knew in his “heart” it was the right thing to do. Reid said it was what Garrett would have wanted.
"I know that coming back and coaching is the right thing to do," said Reid, adding that his wife, Tammy, had given him her blessing. "I know my son wouldn't have wanted it any other way.”
Reid also confirmed what he hinted at in a statement he released Monday evening. In it, he commented that Garrett had lost the battle he had been fighting for eight years, a reference to his eldest son’s public fight against drug addiction. Again, Reid told reporters to wait for the coroner’s report to confirm it, but the implication was there.
“It’s like fighting a grizzly bear. It’s hard to win,” Reid said. “"It's a sad situation, it's one that my son's been battling for a number of years. That doesn’t mean you stop loving your son.”
Vick dedicates season to Garrett, Andy
Mike Vick has never been one to hide his love and appreciation for Andy Reid. Remember, it was Reid that gave him a second chance in the NFL when everyone else was holding up red flags. Now, with tragedy staring his coach smack in the face, Vick has assured Reid the 2012 season will have a special meaning.
“Our entire season will be dedicated to Garrett,” Vick said. "I'm personally dedicating my season to coach and to my teammates. This season will be dedicated to Garrett starting [Thursday].”
Thursday marks the unofficial start of the season, when the Eagles host the Steelers at the Linc in their preseason opener. It is sure to be a very emotional night at the stadium, for players and fans, when Reid’s name is blared over the loudspeaker.
“He’s back with his extended family, his football family,” Vick said.
Reid said that Vick and Garrett had developed a special relationship over the past few years. Garrett had been a fixture in the team’s weight room, as an assistant to strength and conditioning coach Barry Rubin, and the two often shared each other’s past pains. Both had served prison sentences, both had dealt with — and seemingly conquered — their inner demons.
“Michael and Garrett were close. They developed a bond,” Reid said.