Meaning of family

Andy Reid confided in many sources before welcoming Michael Vick to the Eagles. Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

This story appears in the Sept. 5 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

On a muggy Sunday morning, four days before Philadelphia's first preseason game, an upbeat Andy Reid hides from the sun under a tent at the team's training camp in Bethlehem, Pa. The coach is taking a break by the practice fields to talk about family and how his experience with his sons Britt and Garrett, who were incarcerated on drug-related offenses, helped him transition Michael Vick back into the NFL. Reid has plenty to be happy about today: Britt and Garrett are back on their feet, and Vick, a football field away, signs autographs after yet another strong performance in practice.

I TRY TO TAKE calculated risks. That's part of this game. It's part of life.

The thing I learned going over to the prison to see my sons every Thursday night for two years is that there are some smart cookies in there. You can tell the ones who have made a commitment. Some are in too deep, and they have to be in there a long time, but there are some smart people who just put themselves in bad situations or were born into bad situations. I learned that.

I've always been big on the idea that people are people. Whether it's religion, jail or everything in between, there are good people in all areas. Then there are some people who aren't very good. They don't quite get it. That was probably the biggest thing I took from going to the prison.