Les Bowen: Reid tries to move on as Eagles return to Philly

Andy Reid thanks fans for their support on the Eagles' final day at Lehigh University.
Andy Reid thanks fans for their support on the Eagles' final day at Lehigh University. (MICHAEL BRYANT / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
Posted: August 16, 2012

BETHLEHEM - Andy Reid talked for more than 10 minutes Tuesday morning about what the Eagles will take away from training camp, as the team prepared to pack up and head back to NovaCare, where preseason work resumes Thursday.

Then, off to the side, Reid talked about what he thought he might take away from here Tuesday night, when he left the dorm where his son Garrett died 10 days ago, and rejoined the rest of his family at home in Villanova. Would it be hard to close the door on Building C at Sayre Park Village? Or would it be a relief? Would Reid dread walking back through that door next year, having the wound ripped open?

"That's a hard question. I don't know how I'm gonna feel when I get out of here," Reid acknowledged. "I don't know how I'm gonna feel when I come back next year. There's no rulebook or teaching manual, you know? . . . I'm content that he's in a good place. I understand that and believe that. I care about that."

Reid knows it will be good to be back with the family, as out-of-town relatives on hand to lend support start to return to their lives.

"Being closer is better," Reid said. "They know you're right there, and will be there."

The football part of this training camp has gone reasonably well. The Eagles got their work done, with energy and focus, in front of enthusiastic crowds. None of the key figures suffered a catastrophic injury.

None but the coach, who will leave part of his soul at Lehigh.

When Reid returned to the Eagles the day after Garrett's funeral, he talked of how "humbled" he was by the outpouring of sympathy from the public and from the media, a frequent Reid foil. But it didn't take long for the pendulum to swing.

Last weekend, Reid's agent, Bob LaMonte, made his annual visit to camp and spoke with reporters, as he usually does. The reporter contingent was bigger than usual this year, because Reid is entering the next-to-last year of his contract, something that has never happened since Reid arrived in 1999. LaMonte wanted to convey that he and Reid aren't sweating the contract, that they have a good relationship with team chairman Jeffrey Lurie. LaMonte, mounting a vigorous defense of his client, strayed into an area he should have steered clear of, bringing up a Lurie quote from years ago about Lurie wanting Andy to coach the Eagles as long as Lurie owned the team. This then required Lurie to issue a statement about how Bob's a nice guy and a pleasure to deal with and all, but he should know that the coach will be evaluated at the end of the season, like everything else.

As far as we know, LaMonte never met with Lurie to talk about Reid's contract while he was here or even sought a meeting with Lurie, he just answered reporters' questions. Somehow, this bit of ill-timed awkwardness got twisted into a narrative in which Reid was trying to strong-arm the owner into an early contract extension, maybe trying to capitalize on public sympathy over the death of his son.

Think about that one for a moment.

Not a single fact was offered in support of this bizarre interpretation, but it became part of the media gristmill nonetheless. Reid got one more vivid reminder of exactly how thick your skin has to be to coach in Philadelphia.

Tuesday, Reid said his remaining sons, Britt and Spencer, are doing well because they're busy with football practice at Temple, where Britt is an entry-level coach and Spencer is a running back.

"It's the time when you aren't busy that your mind starts to dwell on it," Reid said.

Center Jason Kelce said the intense training-camp regimen, which is not quite so demanding once the team moves back to NovaCare, probably helped take Reid's mind off the tragedy.

"It'll be interesting to see, you know, leaving here, whether that's a good thing or a bad thing for him," Kelce said.

Garrett Reid's death will define this training camp forever, not just for his father but for the organization, which employed the coach's 29-year-old son as a strength and conditioning assistant. Everybody on the team knew Garrett, everybody on the team saw the emergency vehicles huddled around Building C the morning of Aug. 5.

"Guys aren't talking about it as much, but still, every single time I go in the weight room, it reminds me of it, because that's where I saw him every single day," Kelce said. "I'm reminded that he's no longer with us."

Tuesday was a week since the Reids stood for hours in a receiving line at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Broomall, a week since Garrett's sister Crosby sang his favorite hymn in the 90-minute funeral, a week since the Reids buried Garrett, who had struggled with drugs for the better part of a decade.

The family issued a statement the day before the funeral alluding to Garrett having lost that struggle, but so far, no official cause of death has been issued, pending test results. The Reids must have some reason for saying what they said, but will there be any additional closure - or additional pain - when the test results come in, when particulars are known?

"I'm interested, but I can't say I'm sitting here every day wondering ," Reid said. "He's passed on. That doesn't matter."

Contact Les Bowen at bowenl@phillynews.com. Follow him on Twitter @LesBowen. For more Eagles coverage and opinion, read the Daily News' Eagles blog at www.eagletarian.com.

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