Even without answers, Andy Reid finds his focus after Chiefs' Super Bowl parade shooting

INDIANAPOLIS – Andy Reid had a parting message as we wrapped up a chat at the NFL scouting combine on Tuesday. It had nothing to do with football.

“It’s the youth,” the Kansas City Chiefs coach told USA TODAY Sports before shuttling to another session at the Indiana Convention Center. “We’ve got to do whatever we can to help our youth.”

Like so many, Reid was jolted by the senseless tragedy that occurred at the end of the Chiefs' Super Bowl celebration at Kansas City’s Union Station nearly two weeks ago, when Lisa Lopez-Galvan, 43, a wife and mother of two, was killed by gunfire and 22 others were injured in the shooting.

Two men, Dominic M. Miller and Lyndell Mays, are facing second-degree murder charges and other charges, while two unidentified juveniles are also charged with gun possession and resisting arrest.

Reid’s parting message was an extension of his opening message. He began his press conference by expressing condolences for the family of Lopez-Galvan, a DJ and avid Chiefs fan whose local celebrity was bolstered by hosting the “Taste of Tejano” for community station KKFI-FM. It was a classy gesture from a classy man, setting the proper tone.

Before Reid addressed any of the football matters – including the short offseason that comes with winning a Lombardi Trophy, the quest for a threepeat, the potential of losing key players in free agency – he paid respect to Lopez-Galvan.

He also sent a message to the youth of America.

“You’re our future and as great as we can make this place, we want to do that,” Reid said from the podium. “So, we can turn that, which was a negative, into a real positive. With just a little togetherness and love, we can fix a lot of problems.”

Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid during the NFL Scouting Combine at Indiana Convention Center.
Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid during the NFL Scouting Combine at Indiana Convention Center.

While the shooting sparked further outrage that fittingly calls for tougher gun laws, Reid has been moved by the effects on the younger generation. Obviously, it resonates that so many young people were victims of the shooting.

As he immediately grasped the severity of the scene that has repeatedly become a sad fact of American life, Reid – the last speaker on the stage at the rally – sought confirmation that his nine grandchildren were accounted for as people scrambled.

“Get ‘em all together and gather them in,” Reid recalled. “Make sure they’re safe.”

Yet beyond the safety of innocent kids, Reid thinks about the conditions that exist that would lead to teenagers feeling the need to carry and use weapons. Of course, the problem didn’t begin with the teenagers arrested at the Chiefs rally. During our chat after his news conference, Reid, who grew up in Los Angeles, didn’t profess to have the answers.

He just pledged to add personal purpose to the cause.

What can he do to turn a negative into a positive?

“I’ll do whatever is asked,” Reid said.

The Chiefs and the NFL have collaborated to donate $200,000 in establishing an emergency fund with the United Way to aid victims of the shooting. It is just the beginning. Although the team isn’t ready to announce specifics, Chiefs president Mark Donovan is in the process of developing projects that conceivably may reflect Reid’s desire to support troubled youth.

Reid, meanwhile, garnered insight from a great visit with Lopez-Galvan’s brother and points to connections with city leaders and the support from Chiefs owner Clark Hunt.

“The main thing is to just be available,” Reid said. “And then I look at all what Patrick (Mahomes) has done in the city. You put yourself out there. That’s kind of what the Chiefs do.”

Considering the twists and turns of the season, Reid arguably just pulled off the best coaching job of his career in producing the NFL’s first repeat champion in nearly two decades and guiding the Chiefs to their third Super Bowl crown in five seasons.

Yet even with such achievements, Reid quickly alludes to having a level head. This is hardly surprising to hear from Reid, who for many years has been one of the most down-to-earth human beings on the NFL landscape. A compassionate man, he gave Michael Vick a second chance at an NFL career after the quarterback's prison sentence for dogfighting. A challenged father, he lost a son (Garrett) to a drug overdose and has another son (Britt) serving a prison sentence for a drunk-driving accident that left a young girl seriously injured.

Reid knows life and its ups and downs. Believe it when he says he refuses to let football get too high in the grand scheme of things.

“I know we’re lucky to be coaching and playing at this level,” he said. “It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to do it. You have to work hard, but there’s a lot of fluff that goes with it, too.”

Then comes a reminder such as the shooting to put football in another perspective in the context of life and real-world issues.

“That’s why I say we’re here to teach,” Reid said. “Part of teaching is communication. There has to be a love for it. And a sensitivity.”

Which has nothing to do with chasing a threepeat, but so much to do with a deeper purpose: the children.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Chiefs coach Andy Reid finds focus after Super Bowl parade shooting