Reid keeps focus on football since returning

Just days after taking a five-week leave to tend to his family, Andy Reid is keeping the focus strictly on football, writes John Clayton.

Originally Published: March 28, 2007
By John Clayton | ESPN.com

PHOENIX -- Less than a week after returning from a five-week personal leave of absence, Eagles coach Andy Reid was all football.

As the NFC coaches assembled for their owners meeting media breakfast Wednesday, Reid's was one of the main tables of interest. The topic was his family. One son, Britt, faces a felony gun charge and multiple misdemeanor charges, including three drug-possession charges, following an alleged road rage incident. Another son, Garrett, faces charges of driving under the influence of drugs and possession of drugs, including heroin, after injuring a woman in a car accident. Concerned about family, Reid took a leave of absence that started Feb. 12 and ended last Friday.

But Reid, a successful coach who has led the Eagles to four NFC title games and returned the team to the playoffs last season after a one-year absence, was done talking about his family. His public focus was on his team, not his family. He answered questions about Britt and Garrett in a Friday news conference. Now, he was ready to talk about the Eagles.

Brian Billick, left, Andy Reid, middle, and Lovie Smith
AP Photo/Ross D. FranklinAndy Reid, center, spends some time with Baltimore's Brian Billick, left, and Chicago's Lovie Smith at the owners meetings.
"I'm not going to get into that right now," Reid said when asked about how tough the past month has been on him. "I addressed that back on national television for everybody to hear. I'm trying to focus in on the football part."

In many ways, the football part was a nice diversion from the past month. Reid was on the top of his game talking about his team Wednesday and he had plenty to talk about. During the meetings, Reid and his personnel office completed a trade for linebacker Takeo Spikes and quarterback Kelly Holcomb. The thought of adding a Pro Bowl linebacker to the Eagles' defense made Reid even more optimistic about the 2007 season.

"He gives us flexibility because he can play all three spots," Reid said. "It upgrades us at whatever position we decide to play him. He's an All-Pro player, and he's played all the linebacker positions. He's been an All-Pro at two -- weakside and middle."

Holcomb's addition gives the Eagles more depth at quarterback. A.J. Feeley is the backup to Donovan McNabb, but Feeley and Holcomb have to get the Eagles through the offseason. McNabb is coming off a knee reconstruction that followed last November's season-ending injury. Reid thinks he's going to be ready for the start of training camp, but he knows the recovery timetable is tight. While Spikes improves the Eagles' defense, Holcomb is a much-needed insurance policy for the offense.

Reid also spoke in glowing terms about the signing of wide receiver Kevin Curtis, whom he's followed and liked since Curtis' college days at Utah State. Though Curtis ran mostly inside routes at St. Louis, Reid plans to use Curtis' speed and athleticism on the outside.

From the way Reid spoke, he appears to be settling back into his role of running the Eagles. Although he was away from the team and devoting most of his days to family for more than a month, he kept in touch with the front office and even stayed on top of draft information. Reid was in Florida during a good portion of his five weeks away, but still managed to evaluate potential draft choices.

"I had a projector where I was and I made sure I had all the film available," Reid said. "So I was able to stay up on the film part of it. At the same time, I was able to balance out the family part of it."

The demands of being an NFL head coach make it tough to juggle the roles of being father and boss. Coaches like Joe Gibbs spend as many as four nights a week in their offices, not at home. The popularity of the NFL keeps increasing and so does the celebrity status of the head coach. All of which can make it harder on the coach's children.

"I have lots of stories," Gibbs said. "My one son was playing quarterback in ninth grade. He went to a private school while he was in elementary school. But he was in public school because he could play tackle football. They went down to his playoff game and they pounded the living daylights out of him. The whole time during the game they were saying stuff about, 'Hey, take that back to your dad.' I hated that part of it because that's not a way a kid really should grow up."

The NFL is all football, so finding a way to be a winner off the field with the family isn't easy. Reid is doing his best. But Wednesday, for him, it was all football.

John Clayton is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

John Clayton

NFL senior writer