PHOENIX — The year was 2013, and Andy Reid just had completed the worst 12 months of his career, and almost certainly his life.
Reid went 4-12 in his 14th and final year as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. After the season, Jeffrey Lurie, the Eagles’ owner, announced that Reid’s contract would not be renewed.
But it wasn’t because of a bad year, or even an inability to get over the hump and win the game. Rather, as Lurie explained here Monday ahead of Sunday’s Super Bowl 57 — in which his Eagles face Reid’s Kansas City Chiefs — there was far more to the story.
Jeffrey Lurie on Eagles’ Andy Reid Divorce
“I just remember sort of a lot’s unsaid,” Lurie said. “You kind of know what a family’s going through. I think that’s more for him to share than I. But I have so much respect for his resilience to be able to endure what he did and his family.
“He’s an even better person than football coach, as so many of these guys are,” Lurie continued. “They’re so dedicated to their craft. The outside world doesn’t know. A lot of respect there.”
Lurie would not get into any more details Monday. He didn’t need to. The context was obvious.
Reid’s son, Garrett, died of a heroin overdose on Aug. 5, 2012. Garrett had battled substance abuse issues for years but had appeared to turn a corner before his relapse. He was found dead in his room at the Eagles’ training camp at Lehigh University.
Garrett, 29 at the time of his death, was assisting the Eagles’ strength coaches in an unofficial capacity.
Andy Reid somehow was able to complete the season as Eagles coach, but it was clear to all involved that a change was needed. That change was a move to Kansas City, where he’s coached the Chiefs for the last 10 years, winning a Super Bowl after the 2019 season.
When asked Monday if Reid tried to fight to keep his job, Lurie replied:
“No, it’s hard to say that. We were just so close. I think he realized that for his family, a change in venue was probably the best. He certainly is very confident in his ability to be an extremely successful coach again. I had that confidence in him too. That’s what made it so hard.”
Lurie acknowledged that there were times in the years that followed that he wished Reid was back on an Eagles sideline.
”He’s a Hall of Fame coach. But we’ve been lucky to have some wonderful young coaches,” Lurie said. “I think you’ve got to embrace what you believe in at the moment. I believed it was the best for Andy. Maybe not the best for our franchise at the time, but the best for Andy.”
Lurie and Reid remained close even after the separation, and the Eagles owner made a point to attend Super Bowl 54, when Reid’s Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers.
“He’s going to win more,” Lurie continued. “I don’t want it to be against us this Sunday. But he’s going to win more. I made it a point to go to that Super Bowl. We hugged before the game. It was emotional. I want Doug to win another one. And I want us to win many with us. You get very close with some of your coaches. … These are lifelong connections. Andy is going to win more. I sure hope we do too.”