When Michael Vick throws an interception this season, think of Andy Reid’s pain. If DeMeco Ryans’ repaired Achilles tendon doesn’t allow him to be the middle linebacker the Eagles need in 2012, think of Tammy Reid’s anguish. If DeSean Jackson whines, or the Eagles’ safeties allow a deep TD pass, think of Garrett Reid’s tragic death.
Professional football is important in this town, but we learned Sunday that some things are a lot more important. If the repercussions of Garrett Reid’s sudden, tragic death should happen to impact the 2012 season, tough darts.
We hear all the time about how Eagles fans are united and are a community. Well, it’s time to prove it.
Andy Reid gets a free pass for the 2012 season.
No matter what happens, he’s off the hook. If he makes a mistake, it’s not a problem. No complaining. No criticizing. No nothing.
In the immediate aftermath of Garrett Reid’s death, his father made a “the show must go on” announcement. The Eagles were to continue practicing according to schedule, even though it had to have been practically impossible for anybody to focus on football after hearing the heartbreaking news. Marty Mornhinweg and Juan Castillo were deputized, and the Birds did indeed move on as scheduled.
There is a pre-season game scheduled for this Thursday, and it will be played. The Eagles will play four “exhibition” tilts (sorry, Commissioner Goodell) and 16 regular-season contests. If all goes well, there will be a playoff game. Maybe more. That’s the reality of the NFL. And of life. As anyone who has suffered a shocking loss knows, the world does not stop to let you process the overpowering grief that follows. People will interrupt their lives to express their sadness and provide support, but they return quickly to their families, jobs, and yes, hobbies. Those affected deepest by a sudden death are encouraged to move on, but that isn’t easy.
Andy Reid will no doubt return to work, and he says he’ll be back before this week is over. He will throw himself into his job as best as he can, but don’t kid yourself at any time this season: he will still be crushed and in some state of shock. Reid will find a way to do his job, but he will find himself at times–strange times–at sea. It could be Wednesday morning during a coaches’ meeting. Or Saturday in the middle of a walk-through. Or on fourth-and-three in Dallas.
And he had better know that every single Eagles fan is with him in that moment. That’s right, in what is probably the most important season of his life, Andy Reid is bulletproof. If the Eagles go 0-16, he doesn’t lose his job. If the team loses both games to the Cowboys by a combined score of 100-0, nobody says a word. He is suffering through a parent’s worst nightmare, and it’s one that doesn’t end with the dawn of a new day. It never ends.
What I’m saying makes perfect sense now. If it doesn’t, you need to check whether you are indeed human or some automaton from Planet Spock. The real test for Eagles fans will come in a month or two, when the shock of Garrett’s death has receded from their lives but still remains hauntingly fresh for the head coach. What will you do then?
Here’s what: back off. Work to access that part of your emotional core that houses your worst fears and then imagine how little a football game would matter to you if they were realized.
Chances are, Reid is going to say repeatedly that he understands the nature of the NFL and that no matter how difficult life is for anyone involved, winning remains the most important thing. He’ll reference Tony Dungy, who continued to coach after his son committed suicide. That’s who Reid is. He’s a football coach at the highest level of the sport, administering a franchise’s day-to-day operations in multi-billion dollar industry. Reid will ask for nothing. He will thank us for our support. Then, he will somehow try to bury that crushing anguish and coach a football team. Try getting out of bed with that vise squeezing your heart. Then imagine going about your business with millions of people analyzing every move you make.
This isn’t going to be easy for fans. A large portion of Eagles supporters is incensed that owner Jeffrey Lurie has allowed Reid to maintain control of football operations, despite the fact that he hasn’t delivered a Super Bowl championship. Before Sunday morning, every one of those people had a legitimate beef. Now, they have to change their tune.
This isn’t about the Lombardi Trophy anymore. It’s about the lingering pain that comes from such a devastating blow. If you are a parent, you can imagine what horror must accompany every breath for Reid. Every eye blink. It doesn’t matter whether you are pro-Reid or as far on the other side of the spectrum as possible. The rules have changed. Eagles fans pride themselves on their passion. Now, it’s time to boast about their compassion.
Andy Reid gets a free pass. Period. Deal with it.
Then make it happen.
- Now that the Phillies have surrendered, why hasn’t pitcher Vance Worley undergone surgery to remove the bone chips from his elbow? It serves no purpose at all for him to keep “manning up” when the team has but a microscopic post-season shot. Fix his elbow and let him rehab so he can be 100% when spring training starts next February.
- Penn State coach Bill O’Brien is talking about trying to schedule a game at Hawaii in the next couple seasons, the better to provide some sort of reward for players who won’t be able to play in the post-season. There’s nothing wrong with that. I still believe Penn State should de-emphasize football, but as long as the NC2A allows it to operate as a big-time program, O’Brien should be allowed to schedule anybody he wants. If that’s a problem, then the organization should have said the Nittany Lions can only play games in places like Bayonne or Columbus.
- If you watched Usain Bolt struggle in the Jamaican Olympic trials, you might have been surprised by his gold-medal performance Sunday. Those who know Bolt as the ultimate showman, however, weren’t shocked at all. When the brightest lights shine, Bolt is unbeatable. It will be great fun to see him try to become the first person to win the 100 and 200 in back-to-back Olympiads. Don’t bet against him.