BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie delivered a statement at training camp after he addressed the team before practice following the death of Garrett Reid, the son of coach Andy Reid.
"Today is one of life’s tough days," Lurie said.
Lurie said that he spoke with Andy Reid following his son's death.
"Andy is a rock solid man," Lurie said. "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."
Reid did not attend today's practice and won't be present tomorrow, Lurie said. Lurie said that he expected Reid to return to coaching sometime this week.
"All he wanted to talk to me ... was how incredibly excited he was for his football team," Lurie said. "That’s been obvious, I think, since the beginning of training camp, to all of us. He wanted me to know that, secondly, he treasures these practices and he feels bad he’s not going to be at practice today and probably tomorrow. He just thinks they’re incredibly important, and at the same time, this is a father grieving, fully grieving."
Garrett Reid was found dead Sunday morning in a dorm room at Lehigh University. He had been assisting the Eagles' strength and conditioning coaches and had been around the team increasingly over the last three years after he was released from prison. Reid served time after he was arrested in Nov. 2007 on drug and gun charges.
"I’ve watched Andy try so hard with his family over the years," Lurie said, breaking down into tears. "He cares so much about his family that it’s a hard one. You see a man that really cares, and sometimes what happens happens in life, and, you know, as he and I discussed it’s like life throws you curveballs. The thing to do, and I’ve always felt this and I think Andy feels the same way, is you gain from loss, you gain from tragedy. I always think that there’s no way today I would own an NFL team if I hadn’t lost my dad when I was nine and it was shocking. It made me stronger.
"There’s choices to be made when tragedy happens. You can become stronger and even more focused and learn from it and treat life as a challenge, or you can bow down. And Andy is somebody – he said to me, ‘I’m going to hit that curveball and hit it out of the park’ – and on the field and off the field. And that’s the message he wanted me to have."
Here is the remainder of Lurie's statement on Reid:
"He’s so dedicated, he loves his players, he loves his coaches and he feels so bad that he’s even interfering with their success today, tomorrow. … He knows they are in good hands with our coaches. Even in this moment of terrible pain he’s reaching out to all of us, you know, that rock solid guy who takes the bullets after games and all that but as I said to the players, I said, ‘You have to accept the grief and the tears and at the same time gather the strength to be excellent, not just in football but in life.
"We’ve been together longer than any owner and head coach tandem in the NFL and his family. I knew Garrett when he was 14, 15 years old and all of his kids. The thing with Andy is he’s strong and rock solid but deep down he’s a teddy bear. The players who know him know him know that really well. All of us who know him know that really well. It’s why he is so effective. Is he perfect? No. No one is. But again that combination of strength and tenderness is very, very special. Today, my feeling is between myself and all us who are around him and the players, we’ve just got to be supportive.
"We're going to be fine but I just want him to be fine. My heart goes out to Tammy and his family and at the same time as the players said to me, ‘We’re going to practice hard and focus,’ and when he’s not here do what he wants. I expect Andy to be coaching this week in fact I know he feels that way. And he is very, very focused on both his family and his profession. When dealing with a family in pain be gentle and understand sometimes going to exhibit strength because that’s what they need to do."
Former Eagles president Joe Banner, who is slated to become the next president of the Browns, released a statement:
"Words cannot express my sadness upon hearing the tragic news this morning. I've known Garrett since he was a teenager and saw him grow up amongst the Eagles family. It's hard to comprehend how heartbreaking it must feel to lose a child. My deepest condolences go out to Andy, Tammy and their entire family."