As Super Bowl LV closes in, we’re taking a look back on one of the most troubling times in the life of Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid: the death of his son, Garrett Reid. Despite the tragic event playing into Reid’s final year coaching for the Philadelphia Eagles, the legendary coach has managed to push through the pain and grief to bring the Chiefs to a height they haven’t seen since 1970 — or possibly ever. The team has collected two Super Bowl victories since they formed, and the second came last year under Reid. If all goes according to Reid’s plan, the Chiefs will bring home two consecutive Super Bowl wins for the first time in history.
Reid started his journey with the Chiefs in 2013 after being fired from the Eagles in 2012. Not even Reid, according to USA Today, denies why he was let go. After all, it had been the worst season for the Eagles under his leadership, ending in a season record of 4-12. In a statement released at the time of Reid’s firing, team owner Jeff Lurie noted Reid’s successes (which included four consecutive NFC Championship appearances in a row, plus one Super Bowl berth), but felt the team would have better luck with a new coach. “Andy Reid won the most games of any head coach in Eagles’ history and he is someone I respect greatly and will remain friends with for many years to come,” he said. “But, it is time for the Eagles to move in a new direction. Andy leaves us with a winning tradition that we can build upon. And we are very excited about the future.”
But 2012 was a hard year for Reid personally. It was the year he lost his oldest son, and no one can blame him for being a little “off” on the job.
A struggle with addiction
Garrett Reid’s substance abuse struggles were nothing new by the time he was found dead in his dorm room on August 5, 2012. His troubles were made public in 2007 when 23-year-old Reid crashed his SUV into another driver, leaving him charged with 14 misdemeanor offenses, including simple assault, reckless endangerment, possession of controlled substances, and driving under the influence. The other driver, a 55-year-old woman had injuries that included a head laceration, for which she was treated and released. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, both amphetamines and heroin were discovered in Reid’s system after the accident, and he was calm and cooperative but appeared confused. Investigators also found a syringe filled with steroids. Reid surrendered to authorities the next day. To give you a peek into how bad his addiction actually was, according to ESPN, Reid tried to sneak prescription pills into jail with him.
Drugs weren’t just a substance for Garrett Reid; they were a way of life. “I liked being the rich kid in that area and having my own high-status life. I could go anywhere in the ‘hood. They all knew who I was,” Reid told his probation officer, according to ESPN. “I enjoyed it. I liked being a drug dealer.”
He was on the right track
As Garrett’s father, Andy, told ESPN, Garrett had been waging a battle against drugs for the better part of eight years, but things were looking up for the 29-year-old. At the time of his death, he was working with the Eagles’ strength and conditioning program under coach Barry Rubin in an attempt to build a career, but a relapse took that future — or any other future — away from him.
When the police arrived at Garrett’s dorm room in the early morning of August 5, people were already gathered, trying in vain to keep the young man alive. The Eagles’ physician had used a defibrillator to try and bring Reid’s heart back into a survivable rhythm, but it was too late. In his room were a heroin kit and gym bag filled with needles, syringes, and vials of an unknown substance. Toxicology reports would later lead courts to determine that Garrett had died of a self-inflicted heroin overdose, according to USA Today.
The tragedy is compounded when you learn Garrett died in the one way he didn’t want to go out. During Garrett’s sentencing for the 2007 car accident, ESPN reports that he told the judge, “I don’t want to die doing drugs. I don’t want to be that kid who was the son of the head coach of the Eagles, who was spoiled and on drugs and OD’d and just faded into oblivion.”
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