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Vai's View: Vai's View: Reid family receives support, strength at funeral

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 8 2012 2:55 p.m. MDT

Philadelaphia Eagles coach Andy Reid addresses the media during a news conference at NFL football training camp Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012, at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. Reid returned to the Eagles a day after his 29-year-old son's funeral.

The Express-Times, Stephen Flood, Associated Press

My wife Keala and oldest son Landon represented our family at Garrett Reid's funeral Tuesday morning, as I am in London covering the Olympics.

An NFL contingent attended led by commissioner Roger Goodell, league officials, team executives like Browns president Mike Holmgren and his head coach in Cleveland, Pat Shurmur. Other head coaches, including Bill Belichick from New England, New Orleans interim head coach Joe Vitt and John Harbaugh of Baltimore came to pay their respects. The entire Eagles team was bused from Lehigh University, joined owner Jeffrey and Christina Lurie and team personnel for the funeral in the Broomall Ward building in suburban Philadelphia.

Nearly 1,000 people packed the chapel and flowed into the cultural hall, some coming from Utah like former BYU head coach LaVell Edwards, current assistant Lance Reynolds and former Cougars and Eagles Reno Mahe and Chad Lewis.

ESPN sportscaster Chris Berman, a close friend of Andy's, came from Bristol, Conn.

My wife noted the lengths the Reids went to create an LDS presence and experience for Garrett's funeral, including using missionaries from the Philadelphia Mission as ushers and Relief Society sisters making lunch in the kitchen. They also followed LDS protocol by keeping the funeral to an hour-and-a-half.

The funeral started an hour later than scheduled because of the overwhelming number of those attending, which delayed the receiving line that snaked out of the building and into the parking lot.

Only the family had reserved seats in the chapel so the likelihood of sitting next to a celebrity, be it in the chapel or cultural hall, was high.

I suspect, had they wanted to, the Reids could have requested a few rows for their VIP guests, but Andy probably wanted to send a subtle message that in our faith, we don't have VIPs.

My wife was moved by the selection of hymns and noted that sitting near her and our son, former Eagles Pro Bowl running back Brian Westbrook and, further down, Bill Belichick and commissioner Goodell shared a hymn book and sang heartily, "Families Can Be Together Forever."

Garrett's uncle Bart Winters, married to Tammy Reid's sister, offered the eulogy.

Two of the Reids' former bishops and their current bishop spoke. Closing remarks were given by presiding authority Elder Robert Smith, an area authority and attorney who lives in Philadelphia.

The most poignant portion of the program was the Reids' oldest daughter, Crosby, recently returned from the Florida Orlando Mission, singing a solo of "My Heavenly Father Loves Me." It was Garrett's favorite song.

Initially, she struggled to contain her emotions, but as she sang, she seemed to gain composure and strength from an unseen source. There wasn't a dry eye in the house.

Andy and Tammy were incredibly strong and gracious. At the receiving line, Andy hugged my wife Keala, who melted into tears. He thanked her for coming, for bringing Landon, and expressed gratitude that I had emailed my condolences from London.

When we spoke in the evening, Keala said Andy has always been such a gentle soul, soft-spoken and sweet; a paradox given his size and tough exterior as an NFL coach.

The closing hymn was "God Be With You 'Til We Meet Again."

Today in Philadelphia, the media and Eagles Nation are amazed at the strength and resolve the Reids have shown.

"Garrett is at peace," Andy Reid said. "It's the family that has to work through it. We understand Garrett is at peace...that comforts both of us...thank goodness for our faith."

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