Eagles players rally around coach Andy Reid after son's death

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson, left, and

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson, left, and general manager Howard Roseman walk to the field for NFL football practice in Bethlehem, Pa. Garrett Reid, the oldest son of Eagles head coach Andy Reid, was found dead Sunday morning in his room at the club's training camp at Lehigh University. He was 29. (Aug. 5, 2012) (Credit: AP)

Bob Glauber

Newsday columnist Bob Glauber Bob Glauber

Glauber has been Newsday's national football columnist since 1992. He

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BETHLEHEM, Pa.

Jason Kelce saw the ambulances pull up to the Lehigh University dormitory early Sunday morning, and thought perhaps one of the Eagles' coaches had needed medical assistance. So when he heard the news a few minutes later at a walk-through practice that Garrett Reid, the 29-year-old son of coach Andy Reid, was found dead in his dorm room, Kelce stood in disbelief.

"When they first told me he had passed, I didn't think it was real," Kelce said after Monday morning's practice. "You kind of get that feeling that this guy [who broke the news] has been misinformed. You think, 'This can't be right.' "

The Eagles' second-year center wasn't alone in trying to wrap his mind around what had just happened. Several Eagles players said Monday they're still struggling to come to grips with Garrett Reid's passing. No cause of death had been determined, pending an autopsy, according to police.

"I have three kids of my own, I have a son. I can only imagine," quarterback Michael Vick said. "It just makes you want to strengthen the relationships you have, enjoy each and every day, not take life for granted."

Andy Reid left camp Sunday to be with his family, but not before telling his players at a team meeting to carry on with their task of improving as a football team. He plans to be back on the sideline in time for Thursday's preseason game against the Steelers at Lincoln Financial Field.

Several players said they were amazed by the strength their coach showed in the face of such emotional pain.

"I can't describe how much more respect I have for him," veteran offensive lineman Todd Herremans said. "We have to lean on each other, and he can lean on us."

Garrett Reid had been an assistant in the Eagles' strength and conditioning program, and worked daily with players in the weight room. He had problems with drug abuse, and was arrested on drug charges in 2007, spending time in prison over the next two years.

But players said Monday they saw no signs of problems with Reid, making the news of his death all the more difficult to handle.

"The way I knew him, it was hard to see that he'd had a past," said linebacker Casey Matthews, who didn't even realize Garrett was the head coach's son when they first spent time talking in the weight room. "It wasn't until later you realized who he was and that he had a past. It definitely seemed like he was past all that. The way he carried himself, it seemed like he was."

"He's a fun-loving person," Herremans said, using the present tense to describe Reid. "He's just a good dude."

In a statement released through the team late Monday, Andy Reid acknowledged his son's problems, and said Garrett "lost the battle that has been ongoing for the last eight years."

Reid's funeral is scheduled for this morning at a church in Broomall, Pa. Many players said they plan to attend as a way to pay their respects to Garrett and show support for their coach.

"We'll be the backbone for him to get through this," Eagles safety Kurt Coleman said. "Now it's time to have his back and help him get through it."