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For the Reid family, Andy’s first Super Bowl win was for late son, Garrett

After Reid had hoisted the Lombardi Trophy and taken part in the obligatory postgame ceremony, his family gathered together on the confetti-covered field at Hard Rock Stadium.

Kansas City Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt (right) hands the Lombardi Trophy to Andy Reid.
Kansas City Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt (right) hands the Lombardi Trophy to Andy Reid.Read moreChris O'Meara / AP

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — As the clock struck zero, Andy Reid thought about his son Garrett.

Reid had just won his first Super Bowl as head coach, and while his mind must have been racing with countless thoughts, the memory of his son, who died 7½ years ago, lingered.

“You can’t help but think of him,” Reid said Sunday after his Chiefs had rallied past the 49ers, 31-20, in Super Bowl LIV. “Absolutely.”

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For Reid and his wife, Tammy, and their four living children, Garrett was with them at Hard Rock Stadium. After Reid had hoisted the Lombardi Trophy, and taken part in the obligatory postgame ceremony, his family gathered together on the confetti-covered field.

The four Reid children — Britt, Spencer, Crosby, and Drew Ann — and their spouses, along with Reid’s eldest grandson — 6-year-old Maverick — joined their parents near the assembled stage and embraced for a long group hug.

“It was a moment with our family where we all got to cry and really feel my brother looking down on us,” Crosby said. “Garrett’s spirit was there. It was a huge family moment seeing my dad’s dream finally come true.”

Tammy said she wore a ring on Sunday that her children had once given her in honor of Garrett. When the others had married, they each gave her one, she explained, but they had decided at some point that she should have one for Garrett, as well. She wore the sapphire-encrusted piece along with her wedding rings.

“The fact that we were all here, that was amazing,” Tammy said. “Except for ‘G.’ So sad, but I know he’s watching us.”

Andy said he kept his emotions at bay.

“I’m all right there. I think of the good things,” the 61-year-old coach said. “I try to. Always the good things.”

Garrett died of a heroin overdose on Aug. 5, 2012, during his father’s last training camp with the Eagles, at Lehigh University. He was only 29 but had been addicted to drugs for about a decade. The Reids had him in and out of rehab for years, but it was a disease that could not be cured.

Andy took only two days off before returning to the team, but many of those close to him have since said his quick return was the best medicine. His work ethic is legendary. All-night sessions haven’t been out of the ordinary during his 38 years in coaching. But that meant that he would have to sacrifice time with family for football.

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Tammy, his wife of 38 years, has been there from the beginning. She and Andy met at Brigham Young University and married around the time he became a graduate assistant at the college. From there, she followed him to stops at San Francisco State, Northern Arizona, Texas El-Paso, Missouri, Green Bay, Philadelphia, and finally Kansas City.

“I’ve been … with her for about 40 years now,” Reid said. “Every day is a special day. I’m telling ya. I call her my girlfriend for that reason. You never lose interest if you do that, right, you guys out there? Call them your girlfriend and you always do special things for them.”

His last 21 years have been at only two stops, but the hours only grew longer with his coaching elevation.

“Just seeing all the hard work he puts in, I’m just so happy for him,” Tammy said. “I’m happy for the Hunts [the Chiefs owners], and the players, and the coaches, and the city of Kansas City. But mostly for him because I see all the hard work he does.

“I see the time he spent away from us, the kids, and not coming home, and sometimes skipping date night.”

Friday is date night for the Reids, but Reid had been burning the past-midnight oil at his office more and more this season.

“This year it kept getting later and later,” Tammy said. “And I’m just like, ‘Do it. You do whatever you need to do to get us to this.’ And we got there.”

Britt was the first of the family to embrace his father after his Gatorade bath. He joined the Chiefs staff in 2013 and is now linebackers coach. Britt had his own struggles with drugs. He and Garrett were arrested in drug-related incidents on the same day in 2007 and served time in prison. But Britt, now married and a father of three, turned his life around through coaching.

Crosby and her husband rode in the golf cart as Andy and Tammy jetted to and from interviews and news conferences. Before Andy finally joined his team in a celebratory locker room, he reflected on Garrett and what his first title meant to his family.

“I think it’s great for them. It sure can’t hurt,” Reid said. “It’s a positive. With the loss of Garrett, he was there for us, with us.”

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Many have said that Reid didn’t need to win a Super Bowl to cement his legacy or secure a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He’s seventh all-time in wins and has a coaching tree second to only Bill Walsh’s.

Reid had deflected all the attention he received the last few weeks onto his team and the Chiefs organization. He knew that much of America, even Eagles fans who had soured on the coach late into his 14-year tenure in Philly, wanted to see him finally win the big one. But he downplayed its significance.

His daughter said that deep down he, too, really wanted it.

“If you could imagine your dad fighting to win the Super Bowl, and to witness him lose it by three points in 2004, it was crushing,” Crosby said. “Our biggest dream was that he would be able to come back and before his career ends — and who knows when that will be, because even I don’t know that — that he would be able to achieve that accomplishment.”

But he wasn’t just doing it for himself.

“It wasn’t just about winning, it was about doing it for his family,” said Crosby, who had a football with the initials ‘AR’ embroidered on her shirt. “But it was also about doing it for his players. It was just so cool to see the team, tough football players, look at him with such deep admiration and love and respect.

“You could tell they wanted this for him.”

And the Reids wanted to win in the memory of Garrett.

“I felt his spirit there,” Crosby said. “I knew he was there looking down and he was a part of the celebration with us.”