Jason Kelce said they could see the ambulances rushing to Sayre Park dormitories Sunday morning – the first sign for them that something was wrong.
“When I first saw it going to Building C I thought it was one of the coaches, but then we found out it was Garrett,” said Kelce.“When they first told me he had passed I didn’t think it was real. You kind of get that feeling like, this guy’s been misinformed; that can’t be right.”
The team was informed in the locker room just prior to the 8:15 morning walkthrough. Jason Avant then led a prayer out on the field before the start of practice.
“It was a prayer to help us because everything was new to us,” said Kurt Coleman. “We had just heard about it. Just to have God watch over him, watch over us as we go through this time, and give us the strength to really push on and understand that we have a job to do right now.”
As players tried to collect themselves, Todd Herremans is being credited with taking charge. In Reid’s absence, the veteran offensive lineman went around to ensure that his teammates were staying sharp.
That was a particularly noble gesture, given that Herremans was one of the closest on the team to Garrett.
Even more astounding is that Andy Reid decided to address his entire team Sunday, the day his oldest son had died.
“I already had mountains of respect for Andy and his family, but just coming in and addressing the team, feeling he had to, I can’t even describe how much I respect the man as a strong individual,” said Herremans.
The message, according to Coleman: “That he feels that he needs to be with his family in this time of need but also wants to be with the football family, because he loves us.”
Each athlete had their own personal experiences from the day. Some fielded question after question. Some were unable to speak.
Kelce revealed that Tammy Reid, Andy’s wife and Garrett’s mother, was on the West Coast when the news came down.
“She had to find out that and then fly all the way out here,” said Kelce. “I saw the two sons come in and everything. It was a rough day for them. But Andy, in typical fashion, handled it the way you would expect him to handle it.”
The descriptions of Garrett were not of a man that appeared to be in a perilous situation, but rather of an affable guy that had found his calling in strength and conditioning, and who seemed to really be enjoying his time around the team.
“Since he worked in the weight room and I was here with my foot broken, a lot of the season I spent was hanging out with Garrett. We were pretty close. He was a happy-go-lucky, always joking around,” said Kelce.
“He was putting a lot of work in, he was reading a lot and doing a lot of research in the strength and conditioning aspect of football. I think it was his goal to one day be in that area as a head guy. He was good, he knew a lot of stuff…He was doing research on new philosophies and things like that all the time.”
“I knew Garrett well,” added Herremans. “I’ve known him for about eight years. He was a fun-loving person that was always smiling and laughing. He would go out of his way to come over and talk to you. He was a good dude.”
Garrett’s struggles in his life are well-documented. It was something that he opened up about to some in the Eagles family.
“We talked about it on a personal level, man to man about what he had been through,” said Herremans. “He had been through a lot. It’s just sad – everything that just happened is just sad.”