Former Bills WR, Andre Reed Interview
Andre Reed was a member of the Buffalo Bills from 1985 through 1999. Throughout his time in the NFL, he recorded 951 receptions, 13,198 yards, and 87 touchdowns. He was nominated to the Pro Bowl for seven straight years from 1988-1994. He also made four Super Bowl appearances. He is currently 1 of 15 finalists for the Hall of Fame Class of 2012. This interview was done before the Hall of Fame Class of 2012 voting was done.
Announcement : My name is Max Strauss with www.prointerviews.org, www.facebook.com/ProInterviews/ and www.twitter.com/ProInterviews. I’d like to welcome you to the interview with Bills legend, Andre Reed. Reed played collegiately at the Kutztown University. He entered the 1985 NFL Draft, and was drafted in the 4th round, 86th overall by the Buffalo Bills. He played with the Bills for 15 years, made four Super Bowl appearances, and played in the Pro Bowl seven times. He is currently eighth all time in receptions with 951, ninth in receiving yards with 13,198, and eleventh all time in touchdown receptions with 87. Here is the interview with Bills all-time great WR, Andre Reed.
Strauss : When did you finally realize that you were playing in the NFL?
Reed : It’s ironic because my whole career was based on taking big hits and getting back up, and coming to the huddle, and doing it again. I’d probably have to say my Welcome to the NFL moment was in training camp in 1985 when we were doing a drill, and I ran a pass route across the middle, and I got hit pretty good. As a 21-year-old kid, that was my probably my wake-up call to what was going to be happening in the NFL if I was going to last. That was my wake-up moment. Welcome to the NFL, you get hit, and you got to be able to take the hit and come back do it again.
Strauss : You were one of the most durable players in NFL history, what do you think the best game of your career was?
Reed : I can’t pick one. There are so many. All of the interviews that I have done over the years, I always say the same game. I always say that Oilers game because it was not only one of my best games, but one of the greatest games ever played. It was the game against Houston in 1993, the Wildcard playoff game. We were down 35-3 with ten minutes left in the 3rd quarter, with pretty much a whole half to play to try make something of the game. We came back and won. Just the way that game unfolded and how we responded to the adversity and all of that. It was reminiscent of what our team was about for many years, and the kind of players that we had. I have to say that game. There are so many more, but that one definitely sticks out from the others. It was also the most exciting because it meant the most out.
Strauss : When did you guys start talking?
Reed : At halftime really. The crazy thing about that was that we played Houston the last week of the year. Then, we had to comeback and play them the next week. We played them two weeks back-to-back. I think they beat us 28-3 in Houston the week before. We had all of that to think about too. We didn’t play good that last game. It was fortunate enough that the next week when we had to play Houston in the Wildcard that we played the game at home. We used that as a springboard to play better. And, we had many things that we had overcome from the week before. It was all set up for us to play well, and then we came out and laid an egg. I don’t know what turned the light on, but I think we got in at halftime, and we wanted to preserve our season. We didn’t want to go out in the offseason with two losses like that. That’s not a good feeling. There were a lot of things we had to think about that week as far as playing better, correcting mistakes, and things of that nature. Another thing about it is that we had a veteran team. I think sometimes things happen like that with some teams, and they don’t know how to respond to it and come back from it, but we had a veteran team. We had guys that had been there a long time. We had been to two Super Bowls already before that, so we knew what it would have to take to win that game. We knew that we would have to rely on the things that we did the years before, and what we were about, and to see if we were up for the challenge and win.
Strauss : You talked about the Super Bowls. What was it like to be a part of that Bills’ Dynasty?
Reed : It was like no other dynasty. Yes, we got there. I think that Bruce [Smith], Jim [Kelly], Thurman [Thomas], and I are going to write a book about it. We have had people approach us on writing a book about those four Super Bowl years because it’s not going to happen again. Just what happened this past week with the Packers. It’s hard to repeat, and it’s hard to even get back to that game. We did it four years in a row, which is unprecedented. It just makes it even more difficult to do. To get back just the year after is hard.
But just to be a part of that, to do it four years in a row, to see the kind of resiliency that we had, and the flare that we had. We took it upon ourselves to do our role and be a part of the team. We all wanted to go back to the Super Bowl year after year. In order to do that, there were a lot of factors that had to be in our favor. We had to be injury free. We had to have all the guys on the same page. Everybody had to be there for the same reason. That’s hard to do now-a-days because there are a lot of teams that are good one season, and it’s hard to come back the next season and then you try to figure out what happened. For example, they lost a player due to free agency or maybe they just don’t have the same drive. I feel that we had the same drive every single year, four years in a row. We all stayed together too. That was definitely a big factor. If you look at dynasties, the last dynasty was the Patriots, before that it was the Packers in the 60s, the Steelers in the 70s, the 49ers in the 80s, the Cowboys. If you look at all of these teams, if you put your finger on it, they just stayed together and believed in what they were doing. They believed in each other. That’s what we did for those years. We really had each others’ backs.
Strauss : I know you pride yourself on your work ethic. That’s why you continued to be successful in the NFL and at every level you played at. Will you talk to me about what you work ethic was like with the Bills? Where do you think you formed this work ethic?
Reed : I wouldn’t say I formed a work ethic when I got to the pros. I’ve had that work ethic since I was a kid. I was one of those kids that really loved sports. Sports was a great way for me to build character. I even tell my kids that sports has a way of having to do with a lot of things in life in general. It teaches you perseverance, dedication, discipline, and respecting your opponent. It teaches all of those things that you need later in life. My dad was really instrumental in showing what it was like to be successful in life. I still use that as a metaphor for my family. You’re not going to get something for nothing now-a-days. You got to work at it. The guys and the people that are willing to work are the ones that get the best of it. Again, I started probably at a young age, into high school, and into college, and I knew that football could be a real good thing for me. Of course, it turned out that way, but you got to make your own luck in life too.
Strauss : Would you talk to me about what it would be like to make the Hall of Fame?
Reed : Again, I’ve been talking about that for the last seven years too. If you talk to anybody that’s ever been nominated, it’s a big accomplishment. There are so many players that have come through the league in the ninety years. I think this is the 91st year of the NFL. More than 20,000 to 40,000 players have come into the league. There are only 260-something right now that get that distinction of being the best of the best that ever played. The first year that I was on the ballot, I think that if you were to ask me when I was a teenager, ‘Would I be on the ballot of the Hall of Fame?’ I would have probably laughed at you. But again, I think it has a lot to do with the people that were around me. My teammates, my family, and my friends that all believed in me. I fed off of that. It would just be a validation of a lifetime of your craft and what you do. You think about the first time you put your helmet on to the last time you took it off and there are a lot of things in between there, that you can talk about that were instrumental not only in your life, but in your career. I share that with everybody, my teammates, my family, and my friends. It would be a tremendous honor, and it would be indescribable. I can’t even describe it. It’s indescribable because you’re put up for eternity, and you’re part of something that not too many people get a chance to be a part of. That was the biggest thing. I would be in the same sentences with the Montanas, Jerry Rices, and all of the guys that played football, and really loved the game. All of those guys in the Hall of Fame loved the game. They loved to play. I’d be no different than that.
Strauss : There are so many rules today that benefit the wide receivers. You took some big hits in your career. What do you think of the rule changes today and do you think that they’re necessary for the game? Do you think they make the game better?
Reed : I think so. If you look at guys that played in the 40s and 50s, there was no such rule where receivers were “defenseless player”. Those guys had to go to another job right after the game. Over generations and throughout eras, the rules had been the same. But now the question is what happens to players after they are done playing. To me, that’s the most controversial rule change in the last few years. There’s a fine line being defenseless and somebody getting hit to dislodge the ball. There are probably four or five times I watched games this year where guys got good hits, and there was a flag thrown because supposedly he was defenseless. As you just said, there were a lot of times that I was defenseless, I got hit, and there was no flag. Again, you got to commend the commissioner because not only is he trying to make it safer, he’s trying to raise more awareness of what concussions are about, and about how guys can really get hurt.
Strauss : When you watch the game today, if you were to choose a player or two that had the same style that you played with. What receivers would you choose?
Reed : I have to think about that one… There aren’t too many guys that make their living in the middle, and do that kind of stuff anymore. That’s kind of hard question to even ask. The guys like Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson, now Calvin Johnson, and even Wes Welker. Welker does all the dirty work in the middle and for a little guy, he’s a tough guy. I can’t say that there is one guy that emulates what I did and you can compare him to me. Another may be Anquan Boldin, he does a lot of their dirty work for the Ravens. If you look at every team, they have a speed guy and a guy that does their dirty work in the middle.
Strauss : Who do you think the best wide receiver in the game is today?
Reed : Right now, I can’t say that there is one guy that’s probably the best. Andre Johnson was playing really great, until he got a bit dinged up this year. Calvin Johnson is not really that fast, but has the size. Larry Fitzgerald has been incredible his whole career. There are a number of guys that I could say are the best at their craft right now.
Strauss : Why did you come out with a BBQ sauce?
Reed : There are so many things that you could do. I got into it with a couple of friends. We decided we wanted to do something for charity. All that kind of stuff. We started talking about a barbecue sauce. We met some guys down in Arkansas that made a sauce, and we tweaked it a bit. We’re actually going to be coming out with two or three more sauces, hopefully soon. This sauce has really taken off and people like it. The funny part is that I was thinking of a name, and a friend of my mine said, ‘You made your living over the middle. Why don’t we just call it Over the Middle?’ That’s where that came corm. I didn’t even think of it. He did. I’m really proud of him because we’re trying to do something for kids, and trying to make a difference in the communities. We’re trying to do something really good and make a difference. That’s really what it’s about. A lot of players do a lot of things off the field that aren’t really documented, and you don’t know what they’re doing. I think it’s an obligation because you have a name, and you could use your name to make a difference in somebody’s life. That’s the way I look at it.
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