They filtered in from all over the country, stopping by to pay their respects to Eagles coach Andy Reid, a man often misunderstood in Philadelphia. On this day, however, his football family was there and nothing else mattered.
“I’ve always said he was the son I never had, I have four daughters,” said Browns president Mike Holmgren, who gave Reid his first job, as a graduate assistant at BYU. “Andy prides himself on being a rock and all of us in this business, we have to be like that a little bit, but when it comes to something as personal as this, it’s just, sometimes it’s just his humanness and who he is comes out, and that’s okay.”
The Reid family said goodbye to Garrett, Andy’s eldest child, yesterday in a 90-minute service held at the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints in Broomall. They chose the venue over Reid’s regular church, in Center City, due to the expected turnout. Nine hundred mourners filled the church, according to a church spokeswoman.
The entire Eagles roster attended on their scheduled off-day. NFL dignitaries, like Patriots coach Bill Belichick and commissioner Roger Goodell, showed up. They joined former Reid coaches and players, like Donovan McNabb – and an Eagles lifer, an 80-year-old woman claiming to be a season-ticket holder since 1960, somehow stumbled past security to pay her respects. Yet it was Reid himself doing the comforting.
“Andy wrapped me up in a big bear hug and told me everything was going to be alright,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who once served on Reid’s staff.
Harbaugh said the highlight of the service was a rendition of Garrett’s favorite song by his sister Crosby. Andy’s brother-in-law, Bart Winters, delivered the eulogy. It painted a vivid portrait of Garrett and his zest for life, according to attendees.
“He was a little rambunctious guy when I first met him and a lot of it was mentioned today,” Holmgren said.
Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie couldn’t hold back the tears as he exited.
“It was filled with grief and love, and that’s the nature of sadness,” Lurie said. “As it was said, there’s not a lot of grief if you don’t love and there’s not a lot of love if you don’t grieve, they go hand in hand. That’s kind of the theme.”