Garrett Reid, the troubled 29-year-old son of Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid, was found dead Sunday in a dorm room at the club’s Lehigh University training camp, where he spends most of his summers with his father.
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.
Reid’s death stunned the Eagles, who gathered for a team prayer before a morning walkthrough.
"This is a very difficult situation for us all," quarterback Michael Vick said following practice — their first without their head coach in five years..
Owner Jeffery Lurie met with the team Sunday and told reporters afterward he expected Reid back this week. The Eagles host Pittsburgh in their preseason opener on Thursday night.
"There’s choices to be made when tragedy happens," Lurie said, pausing to hold back tears. "You can become stronger and even more focused and learn from it and treat life as a challenge, or you can bow down. And Andy is somebody — he said to me, `I’m going to hit that curveball and hit it out of the park’ — and on the field and off the field. And that’s the message he wanted me to have."
The police chief at Lehigh, Edward Shupp, said a 911 call was made at 7:20 a.m. about Reid, and that the 29-year-old was dead when a policeman arrived at the campus dormitory. The police and 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 at camp 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.
He 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
The Eagles practiced without their coach for the first time since 2007. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and defensive coordinator Juan Castillo will oversee the Eagles until Reid returns.
"Today is one of life’s tough days," Lurie said. "Andy is a rock solid man. I think what makes him a great coach is his combination of compassion, feeling and strength. And today, he exhibited it all. It’s unimaginable. We’ve all suffered — most of us have suffered tragedy in our lives. Losing a son is unimaginable."
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."
Said Patriots coach Bill Belichick: "My heart goes out to him and his family."
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, a father of five, took a leave of absence from the Eagles during the 2007 offseason to spend more time with his family.
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.
"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," Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said. "As a father and a friend, we’re all hurting."
Roseman broke down in tears after announcing Garrett Reid’s death and was consoled by head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder.
Teammate Nnamdi Asomugha called the younger Reid "part of our football family, our extended family, our immediate family, so it’s a very tough time for us."