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NFL sure to rally around Andy Reid after son's sudden passing

A couple months back, on one of those evenings when my fiancée was off working the overnight shift at the hospital, I started scrolling through the documentaries on Netflix and remember being floored at the number of them chronicling America's crystal meth epidemic.

So I chose one. And the scariest thing I saw on my TV that night wasn't that families were screwing up their kids, or that the kids were so evil, or that this particular drug crisis is so jarringly widespread.

Nope. The most frightening thing was that so many of the families shown had done so much right in raising their children. And still, it didn't seem to matter. Maybe it's that I saw it weeks after I got engaged. Maybe it's that I have a 7-year-old nephew who's growing up fast. But it hit me.

After watching that, and going on what I know watching my brother and some my close friends raise their kids, it seems to be the scariest thing about having kids -- as someone who doesn't -- is that, at some point, the life you're responsible for building is going to venture out of your control. Again, I don't know jack about parenthood, because I'm, well, not a parent, yet that part seems obvious.

And what I know about Andy Reid, whose 29-year-old son Garrett died Sunday, only reinforces that.

I can describe my perception of Andy Reid -- that he's principled, hard-driving, tough-minded and, outside of football, an amicable and giving man -- but what means more is the experience of those around him, the other coaches and players with the Eagles and around the NFL. There's a reason why, all day today, this seemed to hit the football world so hard, and it's pretty easy to figure out that one.

Because so many folks have affection for Reid and know the struggles he had with his troubled sons, Garrett and Britt, both of whom were driven to jail by addiction. Because so many folks know the strides the family had made in the time since. Because they know him and know how the weight of the world must be coming down on him.

That doesn't make Reid any different from the insurance executive in Lake Forest, or the stock broker on Long Island, or the venture capitalist in La Jolla who might be going through something similar in his life. It makes him human. It makes his family no different than a lot of others.

According to accounts of those who were there, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie had to collect himself when it came time to talk to the press about the effort Reid had made to right his family. Reid's boss then added that the coach's focus was there, at home, as it should be: "We've got to be supportive. We're going to be fine. But I want him to be fine."

It's hard to imagine Reid really and truly will be fine any time soon, but at the very least, he certainly has the support of the NFL community rallying to his back. He is, of course, a part of the 1990s Green Bay Packers fraternity that now has its tentacles all over the league, and his own football family tree has spread as well. Then, there are those who aren't directly connected to him, guys like New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who have forged strong relationships with Reid.

It's the reaction from all of them that gives you that window into who Reid really is. I emailed Steve Spagnuolo, a position coach under Reid for eight years and now the New Orleans Saints' defensive coordinator, and he told me he'd issue a statement soon. But he shared his sentiments anyway.

"I would say this -- There is no finer man than Andy Reid," Spagnuolo wrote, before his Saints were to take the field in Sunday night's Hall of Fame Game against the Arizona Cardinals. "You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who knows him speak a negative word about him. Anyone who has had the privilege to work for him or play for him comes away a better man. He is special. I'm very fortunate to have him in my life, and I'll pray for peace and strength for him and his family during this difficult time."

For now, it seems as if that's the proper thing for all of us to do.

I know people, and have family members, who been through the horror of burying a son or daughter. They say there's an emptiness that forever will be with the parents.

There are, to be sure, still questions to be answered here. But one thing that seems certain from talking to those around Reid, and reading numerous accounts of he and his wife's work in trying to get Garrett and Britt turned around, is that the coach never has anything but the best intentions for those around him, and his family in particular.

And maybe the saddest thing we can take from this news is, sometimes, that's just not enough.

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