"Our entire season will be dedicated to Garrett," Vick said. "I'm personally going to dedicate my decision to ‘Coach' and direct it to my teammates. This season will be dedicated to Garrett, starting [Thursday]."
For Vick, watching the 29-year-old son of coach Andy Reid be laid to rest a day earlier was especially gut-wrenching. Garrett Reid had been around the Eagles for more than a decade, in the weight room, in the locker room and on the sidelines. But he formed a special bond with Vick.
Both had their fair share of troubles.
Their lives nearly simultaneously spiraled out of control in 2007. Vick pleaded guilty to federal dogfighting charges. Garrett Reid was involved in car crash while under the influence of heroin and charged with other drug and gun offenses.
Both spent months in prison before seeing the light of day again in 2009.
Vick and Garrett Reid were bound by adversities other outsiders empathize with but never fully understand or appreciate.
"That's a humbling thing," Andy Reid said of Vick's dedication. "I'm not sure I have the words to answer that, but those are the humbling things. It's crazy. I'm pulling for Michael Vick because Michael and Garrett were close. They had gone through some of the same experiences as far as being incarcerated and so forth. They developed a bond there, and I respect Michael for that."
Even Vick said he was surprised to see Reid back at practice on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after burying his first born. Reid briefly addressed the team before the walkthrough, which lasted less than 30 minutes.
"He's back with his family, his football family," Vick said. "Coach knows how much we love him, as a man first and as a coach second.
“I know what it's like to lose a family member. I reiterated on numerous occasions how much I love him."
Vick's teammates stood by him on his dedication — both in spirit and on their person.
Beginning with Thursday's exhibition opener at Lincoln Financial Field, the Eagles will wear a black sticker on the back of their helmets with the initials "GR" in large white letters. There will also be a moment of silence in honor of Garrett Reid before kickoff.
"Garrett was a great guy," rookie quarterback Nick Foles said. "Since I've been here, he was awesome towards me and always supportive. He's a guy who meant the world to this team. It was tough being at the funeral.''
Safety Kurt Coleman said Reid's message to the team was about maintaining focus in the wake of the unimaginable distractions.
“I would say it's been rough," Coleman admitted. "But we're coming together as a team. We got some closure [Tuesday]. He's always going to be in our hearts and minds.
“I think this is a good thing for us to come back as a family and to start working to go and achieve our goals for this season."
Standing at the podium, Reid firmly and calmly acknowledged the outpouring of support from his players, the football community and the entire city of Philadelphia. His team's story will begin to be written on the field on Thursday — with an unknown and important season before him.
Whether the Eagles go 6-10 or 12-4, Reid knew Garrett would be in his heart even before Vick guaranteed it on Wednesday.
"I felt a strength with our team [on Tuesday]," Reid said. "I would never ask for [a rallying cry). That's not how I operate. I hope it would be a rallying cry for the people [around the nation] who have had the same struggles, that they can overcome them, and make them stronger. Those are the people I hope it helps.
“I don't look at it from a team's standpoint. I look at it from an individual's standpoint. The individuals make it into a team; they build themselves and come together. It's not one experience that makes up a team, it's many experiences that bring a team together. If this can be a small thing that helps them get to know each other better, that's a positive."
Contact Frank Seravalli at email@example.com