Andy Reid made his way quietly onto the sideline as the player introductions boomed behind him. He paced up and down, up and down, all in black with the red flag sticking out of his back pocket. One of the security guards gave him an affectionate pat on the shoulder. Then an assistant wrapped him in a hug. Duce Staley made it a point to make his way over and give a fist pound. Up and down, up and down, fist pound, hug, fist-pound.
The pacing stopped and the hat came off as the P.A. announcer asked for a moment of silence to honor Garrett Reid. The picture of Garrett on the beach at his brother’s wedding – the one used on the funeral program – popped up on the big screen. When the moment was over, the fans began a polite standing clap that grew in strength but never made its way to a cheer. Cheering did not fit the mood.
“I got a little choked up when we had a moment of silence,” said Kurt Coleman. “You try to stay on football, football, football, and it keeps putting things in perspective. But he was looking out for us today, smiling down and having a good laugh, keeping us on our toes the whole time. I miss him every day and I’m glad we could get this win.”
Before the game several members of the Steelers organization, including Dan and Art Rooney and Mike Tomlin, came to the Eagles locker room to offer Reid their condolences. It was a big gesture, but not the biggest of the night.
With about four minutes remaining in the first quarter, a message from the Reids appeared on the Jumbotron thanking the fans for their support. This time a cheer was in order, followed by chants of simply, “Andy! Andy!”
“I did [hear them],” said Reid. “I take that as a compliment to my son and my family. That’s a humbling thing. I appreciate every bit of it. We feel the love. And during these kind of times that’s important.”
The irony was not lost on some players in the Eagles locker room that those “Andy” chants last season had a “Fire!” before it.
“Even though there are some fans that after last year wanted his head, I think at the end of the day the guy has been here for 14 years and he’s worked his tail off to make this team as successful as it can be,” said Jason Kelce. “I think the fans still respect him. I think when something happens like that to someone you have respect for, I think it eats at anybody.”
The postgame press conference was odd as you might expect: one question to take Reid’s emotional temperature, the next to ask about the punters. (His wife, Tammy, sat in on the proceedings as she normally does, wearing a green Eagles jersey with “Reid” sewn into it.) But it was progress. The day before it was all about Garrett’s death. Now there was football mixed in. Pretty soon, that’s where the majority of the questions will go.
“Every day you want it to be a better day,” said Reid. “We’ve got a lot of support. But that doesn’t erase what took place. It doesn’t do that. But life goes on and that’s how things work. This is one more step forward, and we’ll try to take one more step forward tomorrow.”