Eagles fans bid adieu to home season and maybe Reid

Posted: December 24, 2012

Tom Gearhart has parked his family's Eagles-green Ford E-350 - complete with interior stadium seats and matching Astroturf - in the same spot in Lot F of Lincoln Financial Field before every home game for the last nine years.

But Sunday, the diehard season ticket holder proclaimed himself ready to break with at least one long-held tradition: Cheering on the coach who has led the team as long as Gearhart's van has occupied the lot.

"Andy Reid needs to go," the 40-year-old Newtown resident said, eyeing a poster-size photo of the mustachioed coach plastered inside his van's interior wall. "It's been a rough season. It's time to make a switch."

And if the cheers his comments elicited from fellow tailgaters offered any indication, Gearhart wasn't alone in his thinking.

Speculation regarding Reid's future with the Eagles continues to mount after yet another disappointing season. But at the team's last home game Sunday - a bitter 27-20 loss to the Washington Redskins - many fans spoke of the man who has led the team for the past 14 years as if his fate had already been sealed.

Chants of "Fire Andy," which erupted after previous losses this year, were replaced Sunday by sober valedictory musings.

Though fans hardly acknowledged the coach when he took the field, he left to calls of "Andy! Andy!"

Barry Macort, 53, of Ambler, credited Reid with leading the team to an early string of NFC Eastern Division titles and a 2005 Super Bowl appearance.

But no amount of reminiscing could erase two years of dashed expectations or this year's losing record going into the season's final game next week, he said.

"They need to win," shouted Leslie Cuthbertson in response, hardly breaking what she called her traditional pregame "dance trance" - a superstition that appeared to consist mostly of bobbing to jock rock tunes blaring from nearby car stereos.

North Philadelphia resident Jerry Morris blamed Reid's difficult personal life for much of this year's disappointment.

The coach's son, Garrett Reid, died of a heroin overdose in August after a years-long addiction to the drug.

"I know it's been a hard year for him," the North Philadelphia resident said. "But the fans want to see the Eagles win, and that's all that matters."

But for Gene "The Face" Olewink, nicknamed among Lot F's tailgating crowd for his elaborate facial art each week, no excuse could make up for performance on the field.

Sunday, Olewink's face bore a traditional green and black. But last week, he said, he plastered a green-tinted homage to the Joker across his mug, a reference to the Batman villain's penchant for chaos - a word he said best described the Eagles as a team this year.

"We've had some lean years before, but this year it just seems like there was no heart," he said. "And that ultimately comes from the coach."

Reid has refused to speculate about his future, saying his focus was on Sunday's game and the team's final matchup next week against New York Giants.

Team owner Jeffrey Lurie has likewise said little about his head coach's future prospects.

But after Sunday's disappointing loss and countless beers, 53-year-old Gary Reed was willing to read more into that silence than most, offering a bold prediction amid his bout of inebriated postgame peacocking.

"Andy Reid will be back," he crowed. "At least, I want him back."


Contact staff writer Jeremy Roebuck at 267-564-5218, jroebuck@phillynews.com, or @jeremyrroebuck on Twitter.

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