BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Howie Roseman dropped his head into the arms of Eagles trainer Rick Burkholder. The Eagles general manager had just informed reporters that Garrett Reid, the 29-year-old son of head coach Andy Reid, was dead. Roseman cried the tears of a friend and a father and someone who had watched a boy grow into a man.
Other Eagles were stunned and sad, too. Rhetoric about the strong relationships between a team and its coach is often heard in camps throughout the NFL, but it was on stark, sad display at Lehigh on Sunday.
"Today is one of life's tough days," Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said, himself fighting to hold back his emotions.
Andy Reid oversees almost every aspect of this organization, with his imprint everywhere from how practice is conducted to what is worn on the sideline. And Garrett Reid had a presence, too, helping the strength and conditioning coaches and growing up within the reaches of the organization since Andy Reid became coach in 1999.
Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha called Garrett Reid a special person, and that was not just because he was the coach's son.
"Garrett is a part of our football family," Asomugha said in a statement.
"We've been together longer than any owner and head coach tandem in the NFL - and his family," Lurie said of he and Andy Reid. "I knew Garrett when he was 14, 15 years old, all of his kids. The thing with Andy is he's strong and rock solid. But deep down, he's a teddy bear, and the players who know him know that really well."
One such player is wide receiver Jason Avant, an earnest veteran who is in his seventh season playing for Reid. Avant's father died in a car accident in April 2011. His first call came from Reid, who visited with Avant during the mourning process.
"I just want to let him know that I love him, and this team loves him," Avant said in a statement.
Other Eagles, former Eagles, and opposing players also weighed in. The Phillies had a moment of silence before their victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, former Eagles assistant coaches Steve Spagnuolo and Pat Shurmur, and former quarterbacks Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb voiced condolences. Former Eagles president Joe Banner, who was instrumental in hiring Reid and worked with him until June, said he felt the pain.
"Words cannot express my sadness upon hearing the tragic news this morning," Banner said in a statement.
Said Eagles quarterback Michael Vick in a statement, "[Andy Reid has] been a rock for us and a big teddy bear for us, so we're going to lean on him, and we're going to be there for him, and we're going to stay strong for him until he comes back and can lead us on."
At Temple, Reid has two sons on the football team. Britt is a graduate assistant, and Spencer is a redshirt freshman tailback. Temple coach Steve Addazio issued a statement: "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Reid family."
Neither Britt Reid nor Spencer Reid was seen at practice, a source said, and Addazio closed the workout to reporters and canceled the scheduled media availability.
At Lehigh on Sunday, the players prayed for their coach and his family. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, and special teams coordinator Bobby April oversaw activity, and everyone scurried off the field without the zest of other mornings.
"Andy is a rock, and he's given all of us, this football team - all the coaches, administration, equipment men, trainers - great support for many, many years, and it's just very simple," Mornhinweg said. "We're here to support him now. It's just as simple as that."
Lurie's talked at times about how pain can manifest itself. He said he would never have become an NFL owner if he did not lose his father when he was 9, and he described the choice he encountered with that tragedy: become stronger or bow to sorrow.
"When you're dealing with a family in pain, be gentle. And, at the same time, understand that at times they're going to exhibit strength because that's what they need to do," Lurie said. "That's what we all need to do."