Even people who don’t like Andy Reid the coach can identify with Andy Reid the parent. Anyone who has kids, even if they’re not kids anymore, can relate to what the Eagles coach is going through right now.
It’s heart-wrenching and it will lead to some soul-searching and it certainly puts going for it on fourth down in proper perspective. Reid is living through a parent’s worst nightmare, the death of a child, although Garrett Reid was a grown man when he died this weekend of drug-related causes. Garrett Reid, who was 29, had fought his demons for many years and eventually lost the battle.
Your first reaction is sorrow for Andy Reid and his family. We don’t really know them, we can’t really feel their pain, so we grieve for them from a distance. But what really hits home, whether you’re an Eagles fan or not, is that what happened to the Reid family could happen to your family and you know it and it scares you to death.
All parents realize that no matter how much you love your kids and discipline your kids, stuff like this can happen. Things can go wrong even if you do everything right. Even if you’re a famous football coach.
As the father of a 24-year-old son and a 27-year-old daughter, I’m not naïve enough to think that they’re always saints or that what happened to Reid’s kids couldn’t have happened to mine. And as a child of the 1960s and ‘70s, I’m not hypocritical enough to lecture somebody else about their sins.
But we’re not talking about normal young adult partying. We don’t know yet exactly what killed Garrett Reid, but we do know that he was once a heroin addict and there’s something about that word that slaps you across the face. Maybe you can shrug off a 20-something having a few beers or even smoking a little marijuana and, hey, remember when you were in college? You can understand some things without condoning them. But when you hear about the addiction that Garrett Reid had, it sends a chill down your spine.
Everyone has seen enough bad movies depicting drug use to be able to visualize the whole sordid scene, the hypodermic needles and little bags of white powder and the rubber tube clenched between the teeth, and to imagine your child being involved with that is horrible beyond words.
Kids can die at keg parties, too, but the specter of the hardest of drugs puts the Reid case in a different light.
As to why this happened, there are some easy answers, but we don’t know if they’re the correct answers. Even though Andy Reid is a rich man with a big house in an exclusive neighborhood, we don’t know if his kids are spoiled. Even though Reid is a famous man who spends long hours at his job, we don’t know if his kids resent or took advantage of the fact that dad was never home.
We do know what it’s like to have kids and to worry about them even when they become adults. Some things never, ever change, and that’s one of them.
And once again all any parent can say is, “There but for the grace of God…’’
Contact Kevin Noonan at firstname.lastname@example.org