Tony Dungy, the man instrumental in easing any fears Andy Reid had about signing Mike Vick, tweeted out the following message for the Eagles coach Sunday: “At times like this when life hurts u have to look to God!”
Reid lost his son, Garrett, early Sunday morning after the 29-year-old was found dead in his Lehigh dorm room. The chief of police said there was no suspicious activity, but the coroner’s office will undergo an investigation to determine the cause of death.
Dungy was in a similar spot back in 2005, when his 18-year-old son, James, was found dead in his Tampa-area apartment. It was later confirmed that James committed suicide.
For now, Reid is taking a short leave of absence. How short? Well, Eagles owner Jeff Lurie expects him to coach the team Thursday night in its preseason opener.
There was already immense pressure on Reid, from the front office, specifically Lurie, to win a Super Bowl this season. Reid’s players love him and aren’t shy to express their desire to win a ring for him. They would like nothing better to have him back on the sideline in 2013, championship or not.
In 2005, Dungy used football (and his Christian faith) as a healing tool. He returned to the Colts’ sideline just five days after his son’s passing. One year later, Dungy coached the Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl championship.
Said Dungy: “People asked me, 'How did you recover so quickly?' I'm not totally recovered. I don't know that I ever will be."
It’s still too early, the scars too fresh — Reid hasn’t addressed the media yet — to contemplate Reid’s frame of mind, or to discuss his future. However, the parallel with Dungy is certainly there.
This sudden — and tragic — news might provide an added incentive for the Eagles, or form as a rallying cry, “Win one for Andy. RIP Garrett.”