Andre Reed played for Buffalo Bills from 1985 to 1999. He was on the team that went to four straight Super Bowls. Reed along with Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, and Bruce Smith made Buffalo a team to be feared in the NFL. Reed made it to the Pro Bowl seven times and got inducted into the Buffalo Bills Wall of Fame. In his career Andre has a total of 87 touchdowns with 951 receptions.
After football Andre created a foundation to help kids reach their full potential and become responsible contributors to their communities. I was able to chat with Andre about his great football career, fatherhood, what the Bills need to do to improve in the AFC East, and his foundation.
Art Eddy: Before we get to your great foundation and your outstanding career in the NFL can you give me your thoughts on where the Bills should focus their efforts for this year’s draft?
Andre Reed: Well this is a team that I bled red, white, and blue for and I always will. Everyone remembers the good years that are Bills fans that were in the 80s, early 90s, and Super Bowl years with all the players we had and Hall of Famers. They haven’t been in the playoffs for 13 years. I am not saying the organization hasn’t done the right things. Maybe they could have done some things a little bit better.
The NFL is just a whirlwind. You got to find the right players and get in the right spots. The Bills are no different than anybody else. They got to find the right players. Last year they picked up Mario Williams and they thought that he would be the answer to their defensive situation even though their defense was pretty good. He got hurt and then came on in the end of the year so me personally I am looking for him to have a better year from the get go.
Offensively the Bills have been an up and down team for the past 13 years and trying to just get some continuity and have the right guys in the right places. Of course I am biased because when I played we had all the right guys in the right places and went to four Super Bowls. They have had three or four coaches in the last 13 years so the regime has changed and the philosophy has changed. It is changing again with the hiring of Doug Marrone from Syracuse a couple months ago. It will be something to see to a certain point on how he molds his team together and what their philosophy is to make this team better. Get them out of the cellar of not being in the playoffs and being more a force in the AFC East.
AE: During your career you played the game as a professional and did your job. What are your impressions of Bills wide out Stevie Johnson and some of his antics on the field?
AR: I don’t really have my own opinions about players. I might have more of an opinion about a player with the Bills than anybody else in the league. Stevie is a kind of guy that was a seventh round draft pick out of Kentucky. Not really highly touted coming out of the draft that year. He worked his way up to a starter. He has had three thousand yard seasons in a row. He is a viable weapon that they have. Some of the things he has done is just the way the guys are now. I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Players tout themselves. Now with the internet and social media players go out there and market themselves. That is just how it is in the league. I don’t mind players doing that as long as it is tasteful and it is in the parameters of league rules. I think he got a little out of hand last year and I think the coach had to tell him about it. I’m sure he is going to push the button as much as he can and he is going to go the edge and see how deep it is. Other than that I think he is a pretty good receiver.
AE: You and quarterback Jim Kelly had a great chemistry on the field. What type of secret calls or signals did you have to communicate right before a play?
AR: That is funny. The thing I always used to say to Jim every time a pass was called I always used to say I am open. (Laughs) I always used to say that to him and whenever that day comes when I get into the Hall of Fame I might start off my speech by saying Hey Jim, I am open. We didn’t become that good as we were without that kind of confidence.
AE: One of the most famous games in NFL history was the game simply named “The Comeback” when you and Bills came back from a 35-3 deficit in the third quarter against the Houston Oilers in a 1993 playoff game. You finished the game with eight receptions for 136 yards and three touchdowns. Where does that game rank for you in your career?
AR: Well the importance of it is definitely number one. This is a game at home in the playoffs. We had a bunch of guys out. Jim Kelly didn’t play. Thurman (Thomas) got hurt in the first quarter. Cornelius Bennett wasn’t playing. So we were down a few guys.
I think the resiliency of our team and the guys that we had as backups they took their role like that. They knew at any time it was either their turn or that they had to make a play. That was the type of team we had. It is a testament to those guys. We did have six or seven superstars on the team and we had another 35 guys that were also superstars in their own way. That was why we were able to do that.
AE: If you could describe the Buffalo Bills fans in one word what would it be?
AR: Oh man there is probably not one word to describe them. Fans in every city love their team. They support their team. They are with their team through thick and thin. I think a typical Buffalo fan is a person that goes to work nine to five every day. Come Sunday they are just different people on Sunday. (Laughs) They are just different individuals on Sunday come one o’clock.
If you lose on Sunday and you have to go to work on Monday you better batten down the hatches. It is going to be a bad start of the week. If you win on Sunday people are doing more things than you thought on Monday. I think that they are down to Earth, thick and thin, love their team. (They) will sit out there in five degree weather just to be there.
AE: You started a great foundation a few years back. Tell me a bit about it and what you have going on this year?
AR: Two years ago I started my foundation. I had a golf tournament out here for two years in San Diego. Then I went home one year and my brother was like let’s give back to our community here. Let’s have the golf tournament and bring the celebrities here to the (Lehigh) Valley and show them what the Lehigh Valley is all about and give back to the community here. I was definitely gung ho about it. I got some good people on my foundation that are running it. I am glad I am able to do that. In order for me to do that I got to have the right people behind me to do that.
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