Reid needs a second leave of absence to bring some structure home Print
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Thursday, 01 November 2007 14:36
NFL Headline News

 What happened to Andy Reid's sons is every parent's nightmare, not just those who happen to be NFL coaches.
Reid is not the first coach whose kid has been arrested. And he's hardly the only workaholic in a profession where 16-hour days are routine and sleeping on the office sofa is practically an occupational hazard. Yet even in that crowd, the Philadelphia Eagles coach was revered by his fraternity brothers as a ``detail guy.''
That's what made the words of the judge who sentenced his two sons to jail Thursday on drug charges so haunting:
``There isn't any structure there that this court can depend upon,'' Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill said. ``I'm saying this is a family in crisis.''
Reid took five weeks off from the Eagles after both sons ran into legal trouble in separate incidents on the same day. He and his wife were present in court Thursday and declined to comment, but Reid has said several times he won't step down as coach. That's still his decision to make.
But if Reid doesn't see the need to step back from his job again and bring some of the structure he brought to the Eagles' house back to his own, maybe Philadelphia owner Jeff Lurie or perhaps even NFL commissioner Roger Goodell should sit him down and suggest it.
Testimony in the court appearances of Garrett Reid, 24, and Britt Reid, 23, was chilling enough. But it raised more questions than it answered.
Past searches of Reid's suburban Philadelphia home turned up weapons and ammunition, and Britt Reid said he once grabbed a Vicodin tablet out of a pill drawer instead of a health supplement. That evidence paled alongside the drug and weapons stash recovered from Garrett Reid's car on the day he crashed into another motorist - vials of heroin and steroids, more than 200 pills and a drug scale.
Reid doesn't say much to begin with, even about football, and understandably, he's been even more reluctant to discuss his family's troubles.
But the league's image has taken so many hits in recent months - from Pacman Jones' involvement in a strip-club brawl, to Michael Vick's guilty plea in a dogfighting business, to Bill Belichick's admission of spying on opponents - that at the very least, Reid owes Goodell an explanation.
If accountability is going to be the watchword of the new commissioner's tenure, then it has to apply to coaches (owners, too, if the situation arises) as strictly as it does to players.
That said, it's easy to portray Reid as an absentee father, especially since he fits the stereotype of the NFL coach. Reid studied film late into the night and often slept on the floor of his office. When he showed up for his job interview nine years ago, Reid lugged around a binder so thick that it became the stuff of legend. Inside it, he'd written out detailed schemes for how he planned to structure every phase of the organization. It's even thicker today.
But extrapolating what kind of parent he was on that scant evidence is also dangerous.
Colts coach Tony Dungy is rightly praised as a strong family man. He's probably more involved in community and charity events than any of his peers. Yet he lost a son to suicide barely two years ago.
The Redskins' Joe Gibbs was one of the first control-freak coaches, so much so that on his first go-round in Washington, he famously had his wife tape the dinner-table conversation on nights he didn't make it home - which was often. But he was able to balance work and family life without so much as a hiccup.
In the NFL, though, dedication seems to be measured by how much time you put into a job. So Tampa Bay's Jon Gruden gets up every morning at 3:11 a.m. - which is 6 minutes earlier than he used to rise when he coached the Raiders - and Nick Saban turns down an invitation to dinner at the White House because it would have wrecked his practice schedule.
``Where I come from,'' Saban once explained, ``there is no fun-loving. You work. You work hard. And good things happen.''
But bad things happen to football coaches and their families sometimes, too, and hard work can't always undo them. But Reid owes it to his sons to close the door on his office for the next few months and at least try.
Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at

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