When Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said that coach Andy Reid will coach in the team’s preseason opener against the Steelers, many assumed that the day of the game –Thursday — will be Reid’s first day back to work after the sudden death of his 29-year-old son, Garrett. But Lurie’s comments, as transcribed and distributed by the Eagles, seem to suggest that Reid could be back to work as soon as Monday.
“All he wanted to talk to me about was a couple of things, [one of] which was how incredibly excited he is for this football team,” Lurie said of Reid. “That’s been obvious, I think, from the beginning of training camp to all of us, but he wanted me to know that. Secondly, that he treasures these practices and he feels bad he’s going to not be at practice today or probably tomorrow. He just thinks they’re incredibly important, but at the same time, this is a father grieving; fully grieving.”
When Lurie says Reid won’t be at practice “today or probably tomorrow,” it means that Reid could be back on Monday. And while it’s no one’s right to question the manner in which a person chooses to grieve, the reality is that an NFL coach operates in a crucible of criticism.
If Reid returns to the field on Monday, he’ll be second-guessed, by someone.
And while it’s important for Reid to ensure that his team continues to prepare for a season of high expectations, it’s also important for Reid to recognize that his team is grieving, too. They knew Garrett. As G.M. Howie Roseman said on Sunday, Garrett “grew up with the team.”
It won’t be easy for Reid or anyone else to make decisions that will be scrutinized by strangers or that will hold up to the harsh realities of hindsight. It’s the first time since Vikings tackle Korey Stringer died 11 years ago that any team has had to process this kind of pain during training camp. Everyone involved is trying to do the right thing in light of the simple fact that, once the real games start, no one is going to take it any easier against the Eagles.