BETHLEHEM – Andy Reid and his family tacitly confirmed the worst in a statement released Monday evening: Garrett Reid "lost the battle that has been ongoing for the last eight years" – his battle with drugs, which led to Garrett's incarceration several times from 2007 to 2009.
An Eagles spokesman said the family was aware of the inference that would be made from its characterization of the death of the eldest son, who passed away in a Lehigh dorm room Sunday morning.
Monday morning, Eagles tackle Todd Herremans said he would be surprised if it turned out Garrett Reid's previous problems factored into his death. Herremans said there was no sign of that sort of situation, as Garrett Reid, 29, worked with the Eagles' strength and conditioning staff.
"It just seemed like everything was going the right way. That would be surprising," Herremans said.
Lehigh police chief Edward Shoop released a statement Monday saying there would be no statements until an investigation is complete. No official determination has been made.
But the Reid family statement thanked the Eagles family for its support, then continued into this: "We loved Garrett so much. He was a wonderful son and brother. He made us laugh, he was a pleasure to be around, he always had a smile on his face, and we will miss him dearly. We will never forget him, and we will remember him with love.
"Garrett's road through life was not always an easy one. He faced tremendous personal challenges with bravery and spirit. As a family, we stood by him and were inspired as he worked to overcome those challenges. Even though he lost the battle that has been ongoing for the last eight years, we will always remember him as a fighter who had a huge, loving heart."
Tuesday morning, the Eagles were to bus down from Lehigh to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Broomall for Garrett Reid's funeral.
"I don't want to get into his past," center Jason Kelce said, when asked about people assuming drugs played a role in Garrett's death. Kelce and other players all spoke before the family statement was released. Later, Kelce declined further comment. "I think that's been gone into enough. All I can speak on is Garrett as an individual and a person I knew. There wasn't a single guy who was a better person, day in and day out toward everybody on the team, wanted to see everybody succeed, genuinely wanted to see the team win. He was awesome, every single day for us."
Second-year linebacker Casey Matthews said he didn't even know Garrett was Andy's son when they first met, in the weight room.
"It wasn't 'til later you realized who he was and that he had a past," Matthews said. "The way I knew him, it was hard to see that he'd had a past."
Matthews said Garrett Reid would sometimes refer to having been imprisoned. "We would never bring it up. He would," Matthews said. "It definitely seemed like he was past all that. The way he carried himself, it seemed like he was."
Kelce talked about how hard this must be for the Reid family. He said Tammy Reid, Garrett's mother and Andy's wife, was on the West Coast – the Reids have a home in Dana Point, Calif. – and had to fly across the country after hearing the news.
Kelce told of a brief interaction with Andy Reid on Sunday: "He just told me to keep this thing rolling, keep everybody on track. We can't use this as a setback right now."
Reid addressed the team as a whole around noon Sunday, players said.
"He was just saying you don't know what God's plan is, and this is a time when we have to lean on each other," Herremans said. "We let him know he can lean on us and we'll be here for him, to do whatever he needs us to."
Players said they knew something was wrong early Sunday, when emergency vehicles huddled around the C Building at the Sayre Park dorm complex, where the team stays at Lehigh. Kelce said that since the coaches stay in that building, he thought perhaps something had happened to one of them. Word soon filtered out that the situation had to do with Garrett Reid, though many players didn't know Reid was dead until they gathered on the field Sunday, about an hour after the 7:20 a.m. 911 call to Lehigh police.
Wideout Jason Avant confirmed what had happened and led an onfield prayer.
Said safety Kurt Coleman: "It was just a prayer to just kind of help us, because everything was new to us, we had just heard about it – for God to watch over [Andy Reid] at this difficult time, and to give us strength to push on."
Avant said reaction to the tragedy taught him something about how his coach is viewed.
"You can tell how great a man is when the cafeteria workers are asking about him, when the security staff up here at Lehigh are going out of their way to sign cards and different things like that," Avant said. "For him not to be out here [Sunday] was definitely hard, but once we got out to do football, it kind of loosened up the whole day a little bit, because we know that's what he wanted."
Avant called Garrett Reid "a very, very good person … [who] helped me as a player."
"He was always in the weight room with us, always on the field with us. He was just a happy-go-lucky guy," left guard Evan Mathis said. "Always a joy to be around. Always telling jokes, having fun. Really just brightened your day when you were around him."
Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins said one of Garrett Reid's duties was curfew bed checks.
"[Sunday] night, you're like, 'Wow, he won't be coming through to check us in anymore,' " Jenkins said. "Everything you do, you do it heavy-hearted."
Herremans said he'd known Garrett well since Herremans arrived as a fourth-round draft pick in 2005.
"We talked about [Garrett's drug troubles] on a personal level, just man-to-man about what he'd been through … he'd been through a lot," Herremans said. "Health became a huge part of his life. He had everything going in the right direction. He'd found something he was passionate about, strength training."
Eagles chairman Jeffrey Lurie said on Sunday that he thought Andy Reid would be back coaching by the end of the week, though nothing has been announced. The Eagles open their preseason Thursday, at home against the Steelers.