NFL: Football may help Andy Reid heal with time

Though Garrett Reid's death has stunned the Philadelphia Eagles, the team took the field to practice because their coach, Garrett's father, Andy, wanted them to.

In this Dec. 30, 2001 photo, Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid, right, reacts to the crowd as he and his sons Garrett, left, and Britt, centre, walk off the field with him. Garrett Reid was found dead at the Philadelphia Eagles' training facility in his dorm room on Sunday. He was working as an unofficial assistant with the team.
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This practice session was tougher than any other for the Philadelphia Eagles. Sadness, shock, and sorrow hovered over their training camp on a day when they lost "a part of the family".

Garrett Reid, the troubled 29-year-old son of the Eagles coach Andy Reid, was found dead on Sunday in a dormitory room at the club's Lehigh University training camp in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where he spent many summers hanging out with his father's team.

Police said the death was not suspicious but the cause was under investigation.

The coach's oldest son had a long history of drug problems; he once admitted, "I liked being a drug dealer"; and went to prison for a heroin-fuelled car crash.

Reid's death stunned the Eagles, who took to the field only because their coach wanted them to continue with their scheduled sessions.

Michael Vick, Nnamdi Asomugha and Jason Avant spoke briefly following the afternoon practice, each offering prayers and condolences to the Reid family.

Jeffrey Lurie, the owner, fought back tears when talking to reporters, and the general manager, Howie Roseman, broke down after delivering the news in the morning.

Funeral services will be held today in Broomall, Pennsylvania.

The team will be in attendance.

A few players went out to dinner later in the evening and took a solemn, solitary moment to toast Garrett Reid, calling him "a part of the family".

"This is a very difficult situation for us all to deal with," Vick said.

"Coach has always been a great supporter of us, as a team, as an organisation. He's been a rock for us and a big teddy bear for us, so we're going to lean on him and we're going to be there for him and we're going to stay strong for him until he comes back and can lead us on."

Lurie met with the team on the field and told reporters afterward he expected Reid back this week, ending any speculation the coach may not return.

Reid, a father of five, took a leave of absence during the 2007 off-season to spend more time with his family after Garrett and his second-oldest son, Britt, were sentenced to prison on the same day for separate incidents.

The Eagles play host to Pittsburgh in the pre-season opener on Thursday night.

"I've watched Andy try so hard with his family over the years," Lurie said. "You see a man that really cares. He loves his players, he loves his coaches. He feels so bad that he's even interfering with their success today, tomorrow.

"He knows they're in good hands with our coaches, but actually in this moment of terrible pain, he's reaching out to all of us."

Edward Shupp, the police chief at Lehigh, said an emergency call was made at 7.20am about Garrett Reid, and that he was dead when a policeman arrived at the campus dormitory.

Shupp said "there were no suspicious activities".

Police did not return later telephone calls for comment, and did not say who found Garrett Reid or whether any clues to his death were found in his room.

Garrett Reid had been staying at the camp where he assisted the Eagles' strength coaches in an unofficial capacity, a not-uncommon sort of role for NFL coaches' sons. He was frequently seen on the sideline at practices and in the locker room after games.

He seemed to have rebounded from a years-long struggle with drug abuse that landed him in prison.

"Garrett was always smiling and laughing, no matter what," Chad Hall, the Eagles receiver, wrote on Twitter. "He was very caring and selfless. An overall great person.

"You will not be forgotten!"

Garrett Reid was sentenced to nearly two years prison for a 2007 high-speed car crash that injured another driver while he was high on heroin. Police found heroin and more than 200 pills in his car.

When he surrendered to begin his sentence, prison guards found Reid had tried to smuggle prescription pills into jail.

In the midst of his legal troubles, Reid said he "got a thrill" out of being a drug dealer in a lower-income neighbourhood 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."

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