Inside The Bills

Andre defends his work ethic

Posted by Chris Brown on November 21, 2013 – 3:20 pm

Bills Wall of Famer and once again semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Andre Reed, had to take to Twitter to defend himself when national NFL reporter Michael Silver accused Reed of quitting in the 1995 AFC playoff game against Pittsburgh.

Silver made the accusation on Wednesday night’s Hall of Fame show on NFL Network when the list of primary nominees was reduced to 25 semifinalists. Reed is one of them again. He cited an Orlando Sentinel story as the means for his position, despite the fact that in the story, then head coach Marv Levy effectively explains how any thoughts about Reed letting them down quickly evaporated.

After making the comments, Silver endured a barrage of criticism from followers on Twitter and back pedaled considerably on his position.

Andre Reed, who got wind of the criticism, explained his position pretty effectively on his Twitter account.

For those that don’t remember the injury it was awful. Playing against the Jets at then Rich Stadium, Reed was bent awkwardly in half by a defender trying to drag him down to the ground after the catch along the sideline. With the full body weight of the player pulling down on the back of Reed’s jersey, one of Reed’s legs came up off the ground and swung straight up over his head, while his torso was dragged straight down.

The problem was his other leg was still straight as an arrow in a standing position bearing the brunt of the defender’s weight while Reed’s face mask was touching the front of that standing leg’s knee cap. The result was a torn hamstring, with the muscle tearing off the bone.

Most rehabs are about six months for such an injury. Reed, known as a workout warrior in every sense of the phrase, was trying to return in half that time. He had only missed two games in his career prior to that injury. Missing the next 11 was excruciating.

Wanting to play in the AFC Divisional playoff after missing the AFC Wild Card win, Reed tried to give it a go, but clearly wasn’t himself. He had just two catches for 20 yards.

Jim Kelly was injured in the game, though he did return, and Bruce Smith was bed ridden with the flu and did not play against Pittsburgh.

But for anyone that knew Andre Reed the player, there was an intense desire to compete and to be the best. Even though his God-given talents weren’t quite the same as the most physically gifted in the game, he succeeded anyway and has a Hall of Fame worthy resume.

Did Reed have an ego? Absolutely, but so did most of the other guys in Buffalo’s locker room. When things went wrong they got ticked off. None of them handled failure well, which is why they achieved so much in the first place.

For those who have failed to put Reed in his rightful place in Canton you need to remember this. Reed had the unfortunate timing of playing in the same era as the most prolific receiver the game has ever seen in Jerry Rice. Rice’s 49ers won four Super Bowls, Reed’s Bills lost four.

Spending an entire career in the shadow of a player like that is no easy task, especially when you’re putting up some pretty darn good numbers yourself and going to a handful of Pro Bowls. And Reed struggled in handling that at times. He often felt he did not get the national respect he deserved for his exploits on the field, and in certain instances he was right.

To even insinuate that Reed quit on his team however, is an indication that you never knew the player. Yes, just about every player in the NFL has to possess a strong work ethic just to get there, but Reed’s was obsessive. He didn’t just live in the gym, he bought one. Quitting as he said was not in his vocabulary.

That’s how he built a career that lasted 16 years, 15 in Buffalo, and why he had at least 50 catches for every season he played in Buffalo except for his rookie year (48) and in 1995 when he missed 11 games.

He didn’t rack up the receptions, yards and touchdowns that Jerry Rice did, but no one else did either. And Joe Montana was the engine that ran the 49ers offense, so it makes sense that Rice’s stats were gaudy.

In Buffalo the engine of the offense was Thurman Thomas. That made Reed a complementary player, a very important complement, but not the focal point of the offense. Add in the fact that he lined up alongside a Hall of Famer in James Lofton for four seasons and you understand how the ball would get spread around.

Silver, to his credit, admitted his rush to judgment, but Bills fans seeing Silver is from Northern California doesn’t help matters.

It’s hard for them to believe a guy who admits to having an affinity for Joe Montana and has a Twitter avatar of himself with Montana and Steve Young even gives Andre Reed proper respect for his NFL accomplishments, let alone give the 90’s Bills a second thought.

Hopefully those members of the Hall of Fame Board of Selectors will see things differently this February when Reed is hopefully a finalist and presented for possible enshrinement.


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