Garrett Reid, son of Andy and Tammy Reid, was 29 when he passed last weekend. He was gone much, much too soon, but left behind what his father eulogized as "a huge heart." He fought the demons with a fierce and unrelenting determination - in and out and back in rehab center after rehab center, but always, always, undeterred, refusing to surrender to the demons, getting up and coming back for more. And isn't that the very essence of Philadelphia, what we cheer?
He seemed, at last, to have found solid footing with the Eagles, in the Brotherhood of the Iron, as an assistant to the strength and conditioning coaches. The Iron doesn't lie. You can't scam the Iron. There are no alibis with the Iron. You pump and press and pull and curl and lift, and you leave parts of yourself floating in a puddle of sweat, including your ego, because when you finally stagger away the Iron doesn't even know you've been there.
That bargain must have appealed to Garrett Reid, something to take head-on, no excuses, maybe something that could defeat the demons. Those who worked with him spoke fondly of a young man who never had a bad day, who talked openly about his war with the demons, who was an eager and ready volunteer, no matter the chore.
"He motivated me," said Michael Vick, who has dedicated the coming season to Garrett. "He got me in tune and just motivated me to work out as hard as I can."
For some of the Eagles, Garrett Reid was "one of us." And in the closed, circle-the-wagons fraternity of an NFL locker room, and the home bunker of the Brotherhood of the Iron, such a sentiment is praise not easily given.
And he seemed to be flourishing at last after giving the demons an eight-year head start. For Andy Reid, there was a bonus to having his son so near. As anyone who has been down that trail of tears that comes with having a child with the demons can advise, the first commandment is: Keep them close.
And even then there are no guarantees. None. So the demons hang over you like dark shadows.
But then Andy Reid knew that. You spend every Thursday night visiting your sons in jail, well, then reality is a rude intruder and you begin to beware of false hope.
Center Jason Kelce acknowledged that protective father-son relationship: Reid "was always so close to him. He'd been holding him under his wing for so long in the organization."
And then came the day that is never supposed to come, a day of unthinkable anguish, the day when a parent has to bury his offspring. Andy Reid handled that moment, somehow, with a nobility and a grace, with a measured composure that left the rest of us in awe.
How he never broke down and sobbed, I'll never know. Lord knows, the rest of us did. And I swear to you that this man, already so massive, seemed to rise up and envelop the mourners.
And in so doing he answered those who had questioned his decision to bury his oldest son, who was found dead early Sunday morning, late Tuesday morning.
For starters, that was nobody else's concern. A person has the right to mourn on his own terms, for grief is a very private affair.
"I'm a football coach," he said in that blunt way. "It's what I do."
And so he is.
Andy Reid the coach said he was certain that this was the way his son wanted it.
And for all of us who have sons, he said, "You don't stop loving them."