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The time is right for his return Paul Sokoloski Opinion

February 16. 2013 2:28PM

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How do you mend a broken heart?

By playing football, as far as the Philadelphia Eagles are concerned.

And while the first game of the preseason tonight won't bring back the late son of Eagles coach Andy Reid, it will help the team take its mind off the tragedy.

"We'll do this thing together," Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said earlier this week. "We'll pull through it together."

Andy Reid couldn't do it alone.

He just buried his oldest boy, 29-year-old Garrett Reid, who was found dead in his training camp dorm room at Lehigh University Sunday morning and was laid to rest Tuesday.

But Reid was back at practice Wednesday, and will be on the sideline when the Eagles open the preseason against the Pittsburgh Steelers at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Lincoln Financial Field.

"I'm a football coach. That's what I do," Reid said upon returning following a two-day absence from the team.

That may seem callous.

Two days seems like too little time for the head coach to grieve before putting his full focus back on football.

But Andy Reid told the team he coped with the tragedy through the soothing of his family.

He now wants to calm the emotions of the Eagles.

"I feel their love, their comfort," Reid said. "I want to make sure they're OK, too."

It would have been fine if Reid wanted more time away.

Moving forward

Reid spends countless hours, both during the season and away from it, planning schemes and practice schedules that will strengthen his football team.

It doesn't display a lack of strength if he misses more than a few days of training camp.

Or sits out a meaningless preseason game in which his starters are expected to play about a quarter.

.Sure, he wants to evaluate some of the second-tier talent that'll eventually formulate his final roster for the regular season. There will be plenty of film of tonight's game for Reid to do that.

But he just couldn't stay away.

"I know in my heart, coaching (tonight) is the right thing to do," Reid said. "I know my son wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

"We'll move on."

You wonder what moves football men to move forward when their personal lives knock them backwards.

A day after his dad passed away, Brett Favre passed for 399 yards and four touchdowns for the Green Bay Packers. When he was coaching the Indianapolis Colts, Tony Dungy lost his son but won his only Super Bowl that season.

Philadelphia fans are already wondering if the same is in store for Reid's team.

The Eagles say they're dedicating this season to Garrett Reid, and quarterback Michael Vick says he's dedicating it to the head coach.

But the job of toughing it out and playing football won't be easy for any of the Eagles this season.

They realize that.

There won't be for awhile.

The sting of losing Garrett Reid, who was working with the Eagles strength and conditioning staff at the time of his death, won't subside around Philadelphia anytime soon.

But Andy Reid's presence will do much more than calm the Eagles, or teach them to tough out the most trying circumstances.

It lets them know sometimes, it's OK for even the toughest guys to cry.

Paul Sokoloski is a Times Leader sports columnist. You may reach him at 970-7109 or email him at

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