BETHLEHEM, Pa. — Garrett Reid was a “happy-go-lucky” guy who conquered drug addiction, loved being in the weight room and enjoyed making players laugh.
That’s how many of the Philadelphia Eagles closest to Reid remembered their coach’s oldest son, who was found dead Sunday morning in a dorm room at the club’s Lehigh University training camp. Police said the 29-year-old’s death was not suspicious, and the cause was under investigation.
“I spent plenty of time with him,” guard Evan Mathis said Monday. “He was always in the weight room with us and was always on the field with us. He was a happy-go-lucky guy and always a joy to be around, always telling jokes and having fun. Really just brightened your day when you were around him.”
Funeral services will be held on Tuesday. It’s a scheduled day off from camp, so the team is expected to attend.
“I spent a lot of the offseason hanging out with Garrett. We were pretty close,” center Jason Kelce said. “I want to be there to say ‘Goodbye’ to him.”
The Eagles on Monday held a regular morning walkthrough and a full afternoon practice without coach Andy Reid for the second straight day. Reid spoke to the team Sunday before he left camp and impressed upon them the importance of sticking to their daily schedules. The Eagles (No. 8 in the AP Pro32) open the preseason against the Steelers on Thursday at Lincoln Financial Field.
Owner Jeffrey Lurie already said he expects Reid, a father of five, to return this week.
“For us to not take any days off and be out here having Coach Reid and Garrett on our minds, it’s been tough,” running back LeSean McCoy said. “The biggest thing is that he wants all of us to stay together as a team. He said, ‘Guys, stick together. We’re all in this together.’
“We’re actually his extended family, and he said it’s tough right now, but we need to stay together as a team even in his absence. He wants us to be here, stay together, train hard, and try and achieve our goal. Playing a game is something big, but playing for him and his family actually motivates us a little bit more.”
Garrett Reid had been staying at camp where he assisted strength and conditioning coach Barry Rubin in an unofficial capacity. Exercise and training had become a passion for Reid and he aspired to make it a career.
“He was putting a lot of work into it, doing a lot of research,” Kelce said. “That was his goal to be a strength and conditioning coach as a head guy. He was good at it.”
Reid’s knowledge and affable personality was a big reason why quarterback Michael Vick spent so much time working out with him during the offseason.
“Just a great spirit, a lot of enthusiasm, fun to be around and always is going to make you smile when you are in a bad mood,” Vick said. “He can always get you to crack a smile and that’s what I’m going to miss about him. That’s what I enjoyed each and every day. In the offseason, he was one of the reasons that I came to work five days out of the week.”
Players who knew Reid five years ago saw his transformation. They knew he had come a long way. Garrett Reid was sentenced to nearly two years in prison for a 2007 high-speed car crash while he was high on heroin that injured another driver. Police found heroin and more than 200 pills in his car. When he surrendered to begin his sentence, prison guards found Reid had tried to smuggle prescription pills into jail.
His younger brother, Britt, also had problems with drug use and was arrested on the same day as Garrett in 2007 for a road-rage encounter. Police discovered weapons and drugs in Britt Reid’s vehicle.
But Reid’s two oldest boys appeared to be on the right track. Britt is a graduate assistant coach at Temple, where Spencer Reid is a redshirt freshman running back.
“I think it’s a remarkable turnaround to go from where he was to — you guys have seen him — he lost a lot of weight, health became a huge part of his life, he had everything going in the right direction,” right tackle Todd Herremans said.
Linebacker Casey Matthews worked out often with Garrett Reid as a rookie last year, and didn’t even realize he was the coach’s son for the first couple months.
“He was a good guy,” Matthews said. “When I got to know him in the weight room, I didn’t even know he was Coach Reid’s son.”
Matthews said Garrett Reid talked about his past at times, but players never brought up the topic. Like others who knew Garrett Reid, Matthews said he would be shocked if his death was drug-related.
“He was past all that,” Matthews said. “He was always happy, always upbeat, always had your back.”