INDIANAPOLIS - Andy
Reid wasn't at the NFL
Scouting Combine this past week. He was somewhere else, dealing with issues a lot more
important than an offensive lineman's 225-pound bench press or a wide receiver's 40-yard dash time.
While the league's 31 other NFL head coaches were checking out draft prospects that might
be able to help shore up weaknesses in their offense and defense, Reid is trying to fix what's wrong with his family. And he's trying to do it with the whole world watching.
"Only if you're a parent can you feel the pain he feels right now," said Buffalo Bills coach Dick Jauron, who spent 3 years as an assistant with Reid on Mike Holmgren's staff in Green Bay in the early '90s. "Your children are the only thing that makes any difference in the world. When you have one of them struggling with such a
serious issue, and it's so public, it's tough. I feel for Andy right now. I feel for his family."
Reid's 23-year-old son Garrett is facing misdemeanor drug and traffic charges following a Jan. 30 accident in which he ran a red light and injured a woman. He admitted to police that he had been using heroin before the accident and currently is in an out-of-state rehabilitation center. Another of Reid's sons, Britt, 21, is facing a felony charge for brandishing a gun in a road-rage incident the same day as his brother's accident, as well as other misdemeanor charges.
"It's tough enough dealing with something like this when nobody knows your name," said San Francisco 49ers coach Mike Nolan, who has four children and whose father Dick also was an NFL head coach. "But he's dealing with it on Page 1, on the 6 o'clock news, on [ESPN] 'SportsCenter.' With everyone watching and knowing about it. I feel for him and his family.
"But when we take a job like this, that's part of the price we pay. We're public figures, and while it may not be fair, our family becomes public figures, too. We can sit there and say it's nobody else's business, and it may not be. But that's not the reality of the situation."
Garrett and Britt Reid have
enjoyed the perks that come with being an NFL coach's kid. Now, they are discovering the downside.
"It puts a lot of pressure on your kids," said Kansas City Chiefs coach Herm Edwards, whose son Marcus is the same age as Garrett. "Who your dad is and who your mom is, all of a sudden, [the children] have got to walk that line, too. They do something crazy at school, they know their name is going to be in the paper. They have to act good. It puts a lot of pressure on them. It's kind of good and it's kind of bad. But it's part of the deal and they know that."
There isn't a foolproof formula for raising kids. You give them love, lots of love. You try to instill the right values in them. And then you cross your fingers and hope for the best.
When you're an NFL head coach working 100-hour weeks, you cross them a little tighter and hope that all of those missed dinners and missed middle-school basketball games and missed orchestra concerts don't come back to haunt you.
In the aftermath of the incidents involving Garrett and Britt, many have been quick to blame Reid for being an absentee father. But the truth is, there are a lot of workaholic football coaches whose kids have turned out beautifully and there a lot of 9-to-5 teachers and accountants whose kids have turned out badly.
"It's not a cause-and-effect
necessarily," said Minnesota
Vikings coach Brad Childress, a father of four. "[New York Giants coach] Tom Coughlin's got kids working down on Wall Street. Dick Vermeil's got children who turned out great. You could go down the list of current and
ex-coaches in this league and you'll find tons of kids who have turned out great and gone on to successful careers themselves. It's not an if-then proposition."
Childress, who spent seven seasons on Reid's Eagles staff, said his ex-boss often spent extra time with his children by having them accompany him to training camp or the scouting combine or the NFL meetings, and he encouraged his assistants to do the same.
"Andy was always great with that," he said. "Our kids would be at training camp provided they were a certain age. Same thing with my staff in Minnesota. When you have an opportunity to be able to do that, have them on the sideline or in the locker room or at training camp, you have to do that. Because there's a sacrifice you're paying on the other end."
"Sometimes, people forget that coaches and players are
human," Edwards said. "The truth is, we've got the same problems everybody else has. Yeah, you might live in a bigger house than the other guy. But you know what? The garbage still has to be taken out and you're still susceptible to the same
problems everybody else has."
Sometimes those problems are small and insignificant. Sometimes, as with the suicide of Colts coach Tony Dungy's son James 15 months ago, they are devastating and irreversible.
"Sometimes you get involved in this [job] and you're coaching and you're thinking your kids are OK," Edwards said. "The worst thing you can do as a parent [is] you can't lose sight of time. Because you don't get time back. No one does. It always ticks.
"It hit me when Tony's son passed and we talked. When we got off the phone the first time I talked to him, he asked me how my son was doing. I told him he was doing great. Tony said, 'Make sure you hug him. We don't hug our kids enough.'
"I'll never forget that. And he's right. Because you lose sight of all that in this job sometimes. It only hits home when a coach goes through something like Tony went through or what Andy's going through now." *