Chris Berman exited the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Broomall Tuesday alone, with his head respectfully down, sunglasses on, and hands in his pockets.
Steve Mariucci and Mike Mayock left side-by-side. Ditto Brent Celek and Todd Herremans, friends and teammates that always find their way next to one another in social settings. Slowly the estimated 900 people here to honor the late Garrett Reid, and the Reid family, trickled out.
Howie Roseman and Mike Holmgren stood just outside the side entrance as NFL luminaries of all kind passed below them. The league had a massive presence, from commissioner Roger Goodell to Mickey Loomis to Bill Belichick. Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook were there, along with every single member of the current Eagles team.
On another day you would call it a power summit. On this day, it was simply a collection of men and women grieving over the loss of one of their own. Holmgren eventually made it over to the gathering of media, the emotion of the moment covering every movement and syllable.
“Andy was the first guy I ever hired when I became a head coach, and we go back to when he was my [graduate assistant] when I was coaching at BYU; we’ve been close friends ever since,” said Holmgren. “I always say he was the son I never had.”
Holmgren essentially knew Garrett his whole life. His daughter even baby-sat him.
“He was a little rambunctious guy when I first met him. He had a great personality. That family – they were pretty active, now,” said Holmgren, sounding very much like Reid, his pupil. “I remember going over to dinner when I was recruiting and Andy was at San Francisco State, and we’d sit around the table, and as soon as the blessing was over the food, it was like Star Wars. It was a lot of fun. My thoughts and prayers are with the family now.”
This is not the church that the Reids belong to, but it’s the largest one in the area and the best-equipped to handle the turnout. People were sat in the chapel and gymnasium and smaller rooms. There were closed-circuit televisions set up for the crowd, which started arriving around 9 a.m. for the 10 o’clock service (They were able to finally start just after 11.).
Some 30 missionaries donated their time to help make the process as smooth as possible. Garrett died on Sunday morning and somehow all of this – the transportation, the police assistance, the ceremony, the media accommodations – were perfectly pulled together.
Andy headed the receiving line, accompanying his wife Tammy, sons Britt and Spencer, daughters Crosby and Drew Ann. “He was comforting us,” said John Harbaugh, Ravens head coach and former Eagles assistant under Reid.. “He wrapped me up in a big bear hug, and he told me everything was going to be alright. That’s the Andy I know.”
Several in attendance noted Crosby’s singing of Garrett’s favorite church song, My Heavenly Father Loves Me, as one of the most touching moments of the day.
“It was a wonderful ceremony, a wonderful celebration of Garrett’s life,” said Harbaugh. “He was a special young man and he will be very much missed.”
Jeffrey Lurie stated after the service that Andy still plans to coach against the Steelers on Thursday night. It was plain to see from Tuesday’s turnout that if that is what he chooses to do, he will be amongst family.
“The team loves this man, Andy,” said Lurie, beginning to break up. “It’s hard to explain. As a coach and a human, he is fully involved. He is one of these people that shares his life and his love and his passion for the football team and the extended family, and it is so appreciated by everybody that works for him. It’s not something you can see in press conferences, it’s not something you can see after a loss or a win, it’s just how he is as a person. He is just incredibly respected.”