Anyone who has a husband, wife, son, daughter, uncle, aunt or cousin – or a friend who has suffered with the demons of addiction – can certainly understand a little about what Eagles Coach Andy Reid has gone through lately.
Since the troubles of his two sons became public a few years back, Reid has become a very public face of a parent trying to navigate through the addiction of a loved one. He and his wife actually did an interview with Philadelphia Magazine where they talked about the troubles of both of their older sons, what it had done to their family, how it affected Andy’s job as an NFL head coach. After all, being an NFL coach is tough enough without having the pain and trouble that goes along with two sons in trouble with the law as well as battling their addiction issues.
Well, the news broke this weekend that Andy’s oldest son Garrett had been found dead in his dorm room up at Lehigh where the team does its pre-season work. There was no foul play, no suicide note, just the quiet acknowledgement that drugs likely played a role. No one knows yet but that hasn’t stopped the speculation. And probably for good reason.
However what I have found sickening is the preachy attitude people have taken against Reid. The comments on this newspaper’s website as well as those of many of the sites I read in the past 24 hours or so. People seem to forget that nothing Andy Reid has done or not done caused the death of his oldest kid. In fact, as an NFL coach it seemed that he and his wife along with the rest of the Reid family had done plenty to help both Garrett and Brit deal with their addictions. Reid’s very religious nature would seem to indicate that despite what you think of him as a football coach, as a dad he did whatever he could and wasn’t the kind of guy who ignored the problems. He may have been duped a little by his kids but which parent out there hasn’t? And if you say you haven’t duped, well, then you’re just lying or you’re still being duped.
As someone whose family and even extended family has seen its share of addiction issues over the decades, it’s a nasty disease that can ruin someone’s life. It’s a lifelong battle that takes every ounce of courage and fight. And Reid seems to be the kind of guy who was willing to wage the fight, supporting his sons along the way.
However, some people just don’t understandHere’s a small sampling of the comments on the Daily Local News Facebook page:
– “That’s what happens when you do drugs”
– “The DLN is basically saying they don’t want any real opinions, just condolences.” (This was in response to our plea for those commenting not to use vulgar language and to be respectful)
I suppose my question is why anyone would go so low as to make these kinds of comments when Reid – who’s as human as the rest of us – just lost his son? The guy is making plans to bury his child. It’s just too bad that people are so empty and so cold-hearted that they kick a guy when he’s down. And again, this has nothing to do with football and everything to do with life.
I feel very bad for the Reids and obviously for Garrett who if he died as a result of drugs was unable to win his battle. He seemed like a decent person deep down. He was young, made some stupid decisions, obviously got involved in stuff he had no control over and then possibly paid the ultimate price. But no one deserves to go like that, that young. He had his whole life ahead of him.
Now the pain will be on Andy Reid and the rest of his family. They will have to go on with the rest of their lives without their oldest son/brother. Andy Reid will run out onto the football field every weekend until sometime in January, coaching the beloved Philadelphia Eagles. And maybe his team this year wins a Super Bowl or at least makes it to the playoffs. And maybe everyone stays healthy and has terrific years. And maybe he’s even voted NFL Coach of the Year.
But in the end, none of that will matter – not even a little bit. For despite what a lot of people think, there will be a huge hole in his heart that nothing can ever fill. They haven’t made an award or trophy that big.
So my advice or words of support for Reid? Andy, do the best you can to move on from this tragic event. Don’t listen to what the hurtful people will say. Like the saying goes, if they haven’t walked a mile in your shoes, they’re clueless. You obviously did the best job you could do as a dad. There are things in life you just can’t control and this is one of them and one of the most painful. Time will heal – a little bit. You’ll never be the same person but perhaps you can find some peace and comfort out there. You did your best and that’s what counts.
And to the rest of the people? Try and support the guy like you’d support your own family. And for the others, please save your mean spirits for someone who actually cares to listen. I – and many others – don’t want to hear it. Not now. Not ever.
– Andy Hachadorian