Garrett Reid remembered in emotional funeral

Posted: August 08, 2012

Garrett Reid, son of Eagles coach Andy Reid, was remembered on Tuesday during a 90-minute funeral at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Broomall that was attended by an estimated 900 people.

The service did not begin at the scheduled 10 a.m. time because the outpouring of support had the line of well-wishers snaking around the church and required curtains to be pulled back to open an adjoining gymnasium.

Garrett Reid, 29, died Sunday morning. The autopsy has not been released, but Andy Reid acknowledged in a statement on Monday that Garrett Reid, who had suffered from drug addiction for much of the last decade, "lost the battle that has been ongoing for the last eight years."

Andy Reid has been away from the Eagles since his son's death. Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said that "all indications are that [Reid] probably will" coach in Thursday's preseason opener against the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers. Lurie said that coaching can be therapeutic for Reid at this point.

By all accounts, a big part of the grieving process was Tuesday's funeral. The ceremony served as "a wonderful celebration of Garrett's life," said Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh, an Eagles assistant coach for Reid from 1999-2007.

The picture painted of Garrett Reid during the ceremony was not one of addiction and struggles but of the boy who hugged his first-grade teacher at the end of each school day. It was of the high school student who went into religious studies class each morning at 6 a.m. prepared to awaken the room with his sense of humor.

Those in the church erupted in laughter at the end of the story of how Garrett Reid wrote when he was a child that he wanted to become a millionaire with a big house, a black corvette and boys - no girls - as children.

Harbaugh said the most touching moment of the service came when Crosby Reid, Garrett Reid's sister, sang Garrett's favorite hymn, "My Heavenly Father Loves Me." The invocation was delivered by Cindy Winters, Garrett Reid's aunt, and the eulogy was delivered by Bart Winters, Garrett Reid's uncle.

Throughout the service, the focus was on the side of Garrett Reid that the family hopes is remembered.

"His spirit for life, the joy he lived with for every single day," Harbaugh said. "The one thing I took, more than anything, was that Garrett was a friend of everybody. Kids in school that were kind of struggling a little bit, he's their friend. The guys that were picked last for the basketball team, he's their friend. He would take everybody under his wing. He had great compassion for people. And that's a trait I think he gets from Andy."

Mike Holmgren, Andy Reid's former boss with the Green Bay Packers and now the president of the Cleveland Browns, remembered Garrett Reid as "rambunctious" with a "great personality." Holmgren said that came across from those who spoke on Tuesday.

"It was filled with grief and love, and that's the nature of sadness," Lurie said. "There's not a lot of grief if you don't love, and there's not a lot of love if you don't grieve."

Harbaugh arrived in a van with members of the Ravens organization that also included former Eagles safety Sean Considine. There were a number of representatives from the Browns, including Holmgren and former Eagles general manager Tom Heckert. New Orleans coaches Joe Vitt and Steve Spagnuolo, both former Eagles assistants, flew into Philadelphia for the funeral, as did New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson, the former Eagles director of college scouting. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was also in attendance.

But the largest group was the Eagles. A caravan of buses brought players and staff members from the NovaCare Complex in South Philadelphia and the training camp quarters at Lehigh University. Former Eagles who played for Reid - from Donovan McNabb to Jeremiah Trotter to Brian Westbrook - paid respect to the family.

Former Eagles president Joe Banner and Temple coach Steve Addazio were there, too. The efforts that those around the NFL made to attend spoke to their respect for Andy Reid. He was described on Tuesday by those who spoke to him as "strong" and trying to comfort others. He wrapped Harbaugh with a big bear hug and told him that "everything will be all right."

Holmgren, who has four daughters, called Andy Reid "the son I never had." He said Reid "prides himself on being a rock" and added that Reid's true feelings are revealed in situations like this.

"He reacted like any father would," Holmgren said.

As for when Reid will return to the team, Lurie told Reid that he can take as much time off as he needs and spoke with other NFL coaches who have dealt with similar situations. But Lurie said that coaching can provide Reid with a positive alternative during a period when football would otherwise seem secondary. That's why Lurie said the indications he received are that Reid will quickly return to the sidelines.

"He's so comfortable coaching. That's what he does. He's a football coach," Lurie said. "I think it'll be therapy for him. On behalf of all of us, he can take as much time off as is warranted. But that's not what he wants. He wants to get right back in there."


Contact Zach Berman at zberman@phillynews.com or follow on Twitter @ZBerm. Staff writer Michael Vitez contributed to this story.

 

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