BETHLEHEM, Pa. — Garrett Reid, the oldest son of Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid, was found dead Sunday morning in his room at the club’s training camp at Lehigh University. He was 29.
The police chief at Lehigh, Edward Shupp, said a 911 call was made at 7:20 a.m., and that Garrett Reid was dead when a policeman arrived at the campus dormitory. A cause of death has not been determined.
“There were no suspicious activities,” Shupp said.
The 29-year-old Reid struggled with drug abuse for years and was imprisoned for a 2007 high-speed car crash in which another driver was injured. Police found heroin, which Reid admitted to using, and more than 200 pills in his car. When he surrendered to begin serving his sentence in that case, prison guards found Reid had tried to smuggle prescription pills into jail.
Reid seemed to have rebounded from his problems in recent times and was assisting the Eagles’ strength coaches at camp in an unofficial capacity, a not-uncommon sort of role for NFL coaches’ sons. Many of the coaches and staff stay in the Lehigh dorms.
In the midst of his legal troubles in his early 20s, Reid said he “got a thrill” out of being a drug dealer in a lower-income neighborhood just a few miles from his parents’ suburban Villanova mansion.
“I liked being the rich kid in that area and having my own high-status life,” Reid told a probation officer, according to court testimony in November 2007. “I could go anywhere in the ‘hood. They all knew who I was. I enjoyed it. I liked being a drug dealer.”
At his sentencing hearing, Reid told the judge: “I don’t want to die doing drugs. I don’t want to be that kid who was the son of the head coach of the Eagles, who was spoiled and on drugs and OD’d and just faded into oblivion.”
His younger brother, Britt, also had problems with drug use and was arrested on the same day as Garrett in 2007 for a road-rage encounter. Police discovered weapons and drugs in Britt Reid’s vehicle.
“ We’ve been with Andy for a long time. He’s always been strong for us; we’re going to be strong for him right now.
” — Eagles GM Howie Roseman
The Eagles practiced Sunday morning after gathering for a team prayer, but Andy Reid was not present. Assistants Marty Mornhinweg and Juan Castillo ran the team’s walk-through and will oversee the Eagles until Reid returns. Owner Jeffery Lurie said he expected Reid back this week.
The afternoon session Sunday went on, but Lurie canceled his annual state of the team address.
“Today is one of life’s tough days,” Lurie said. “Andy is a rock-solid man. I think what makes him a great coach is his combination of compassion, feeling and strength. And today, he exhibited it all. It’s unimaginable. We’ve all suffered — most of us have suffered tragedy in our lives. Losing a son is unimaginable. Losing a child is unimaginable — the pain. Again, he is rock solid.”
Expressions of sympathy came from everywhere around the league.
“My condolences go out to Coach Reid and his family,” quarterback Michael Vick tweeted. “Stay strong and we LOVE you coach.”
Said commissioner Roger Goodell: “We are deeply saddened by the news about Garrett Reid. Our thoughts and prayers are with Andy, Tammy and their family. We will support them and the Eagles in any way we can through this difficult time.”
Dallas coach Jason Garrett said Sunday that he sent Reid a text message offering his support and the Cowboys as an organization are expected to reach out to the veteran coach.
“Andy is a great guy, he’s an outstanding football coach, but he’s a great guy,” Garrett said. “He’s been really good to me and so good to so many people in the NFL for a long, long time. He’s part of our fraternity and this is really, really sad day for their family and really for everybody in the NFL. We wanted to express our condolences to them and just wanted to let them know we’re for them if they need any help from me or the Dallas Cowboys organization.”
Authorities had few details about Garrett Reid’s death.
“What I can tell you is this morning we were contacted by the Lehigh campus police department and (were) requested to respond for the discovery of a deceased male,” said Northampton County coroner Zachary Lysek. “We are conducting an investigation with the cooperation of the Lehigh campus police department and I personally pronounced Mr. Reid deceased at the scene.”
Andy Reid, a father of five, took a leave of absence from the Eagles during the 2007 offseason to spend more time with his family.
Reid is in his 14th season in Philadelphia. He’s led the Eagles to nine playoff appearances, six NFC East titles, five conference championship games and one Super Bowl loss.
“We’ve been with Andy for a long time. He’s always been strong for us; we’re going to be strong for him right now,” Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said. “As a father and a friend, we’re all hurting.”