“Unfortunately, it took this tragedy, the loss of his son, to humanize him. ... And for that reason, I think we will cut him a lot more slack than we ever have. We just didn't know him before."
Cutting a break for the grieving, suddenly vulnerable Reid was the prevailing sentiment among the Birds' tailgaters before the Eagles' 24-23 preseason win against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"I think he'll still be pretty stoic as a coach," Justin Guerrera said. "Hopefully, we'll get to see a little more of how he actually feels about a game instead of those robotic answers.
“For years, we've heard people who really know him say, ‘That's not Andy Reid. That's not who he is.' Now we see it what they mean. He opened up."
Robert Tiller of Chester said he can really relate to Reid because "I had a tragedy, too, in my family. My daughter passed away in a car accident."
Like Reid, Tiller is a coach, guiding the Chester High School baseball team with friend and fellow coach Eugene Campbell.
Also like Reid, Tiller said that God has been his main source of comfort in a time of personal tragedy. "It's amazing how the man above has a plan for you if you stay humble and let him help you," Tiller said. "He's the only one that truly understands you."
Tiller and Campbell are trying to get a Babe Ruth League baseball program going in Chester for teenagers. "Life goes on," Tiller said. "It helps to focus on the task at hand. For me, it's starting this youth-baseball program. For the Eagles, it's win the Super Bowl for Andy Reid. Focus on the task, and everything will just flow freely."
John Barnhart — tailgating with his wife, four children and a couple of dozen friends from the Atlantic City area amid a savory world of deep-fried turkey and shish kebab — says he thinks the fans will respect the new Andy Reid and the team will rally around him.
"The Eagles always play with heart for him," Barnhart said, "through all the ups and downs he's had. I think he's a quiet giant. I've been to training camp and you can really see it there. The players respect him. But these Philly fans? They'll give him a break for the first couple of games. After that ... "
Barnhart's pal Craig Blum laughed and said he'd cut Reid plenty of slack "as long as we get at least one home playoff game so we can get an extra tailgate out of it." More seriously, Blum added, "One playoff game won't do it. I need an NFC Championship."
Contact Dan Geringer at 215-854-5961 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DanGeringer