The NFL generally has tried to keep a lid on the fact that former Chiefs assistant coach Britt Reid had been drinking at the team facility prior to an automobile crash that left a young girl seriously and permanently injured in February 2020. Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports reports that court documents show Reid had been drinking at work.
The evidence came from Reid himself, in responses to questions from his lawyer last month that eliminated the possibility that he had left the facility and consumed alcohol elsewhere. The sentencing memorandum, filed by Reid’s lawyer last Friday, makes it even more clear that the accident happened shortly after he left the facility, with no stops in between.
Those facts are irrelevant to the crime for which Reid will be sentenced on Friday. But they are highly pertinent to the question of what others knew and when they knew it about Reid violating league rules regarding the presence and consumption of alcohol on team premises.
Wetzel lists the various questions that haven’t been, and may never be, answered by the NFL or the Chiefs: “What was happening that day at the facility? Was Reid drinking alone? With others? Did he hide it? Was it out in the open? Did anyone worry about a life-long abuser using alcohol? Is drinking on the job prevalent there?”
It’s a tragic situation for all involved. But it possibly could have been prevented. Britt Reid, the son of head coach Andy Reid, had a history of substance abuse. The timing of the incident underscores the significance of an issue that surely created a very real distraction for the Chiefs, only three nights before Super Bowl LV.
Because of the pandemic, the Chiefs did not travel to Tampa for the Super Bowl until the Friday before the game. The crash happened on Thursday night.
Will the Chiefs or the NFL ever provide public answers to these questions? Last November, the Chiefs reached an agreement to provide the family of Ariel Young, who was five years old at the time, “with world-class medical care and long-term financial stability.” Those terms were undoubtedly the subject of a settlement as to any claims that could have been made against the Chiefs.
Without a lawsuit that would have played out in open court, there is no mechanism for getting to the truth. The NFL and the Chiefs have no reason to disclose the actual facts, or to answer the tough questions.
As Wetzel writes, “The story will likely drift off into history. That’s how the NFL wants it.”
That’s not the way it should be. But there’s simply no way to change the way things are, on this specific issue.