Andre Reed, My Fellow Kutztown Golden Bear Goes Into the NFL Hall of Fame

Andre ReedBy Walter L. Hilliard III –

Kutztown University, one of Pennsylvania’s State University member schools, sits quietly nestled right in between Reading, Pa, known for its famous shopping outlets, and Billy Joel’s “Allentown,” Pa. It’s a beautiful school that welcomed me, took me in in the 1980s and nurtured me, helped me become a man after I had left home, Harrisburg, Pa, the state capital, for the first time in my life. It was a wonderful experience and no one can ever take away one of my greatest accomplishments, earning my bachelors degree.

Well, Kutztown recently ran to the forefront of my mind because I was watching television, I believe the NFL Network and their report about a feud between NFL Hall of Famer Warren Sapp and Hall candidate Michael Strahan. Sapp was belittling Strahan in the media, saying he didn’t deserve to get into the Hall. However, the mention of Andre Reed, the ex-wide receiver of the Buffalo Bills, also being on a long list of Hall candidates is what caught my attention because I attended Kutztown University when Reed did and got to know him.

Well, over the next couple of days, I found out that Reed made the cut and was elected to the Hall, along with Strahan and others.

Happy for Reed, I had to take a moment to think about my time at Kutztown, and how I came to know Andre. What sticks out most in my memory is that Andre is one of the nicest, coolest people I have ever known. He was confident but not cocky and I never saw him mistreat anyone, and he always had a smile draped across his face.

When I was a young student at Kutztown University in the 1980s, Reed was already there and I got to know him hanging out around the basketball gym and dorms. In fact, one of my memories of him is him rolling over to my dorm room asking to borrow my shampoo. Now I kind of feel like he owes me money, you know, being that he made all that NFL cash and is now going into the Hall of Fame (lol).

I also remember being a bit dumbfounded and in disbelief one day, sitting around the gym waiting for the next pick up game, when Andre casually mentions to me that several NFL teams were evaluating him. In fact, I said, “you’re lying,” and laughed. But he looked me right in the eyes and confidently said he was serious, and elaborated. I can remember the exact moment. Sure, everyone had been talking about what a great football player he was, but I hadn’t been to any football games.

I had my own visions athletic grandeur at Kutztown, being a freshmen basketball player on a varsity team (no freshmen team), but after the new coach Bob Valvano — brother of the great Jim Valvano, whose N.C. State team won a national championship over Hakim Olajuwan’s Houston team — followed through on his announcement that freshmen would not play much, I was  disappointed after a season of warming the bench, long practices, and dressing for mostly home games.  However, I trained hard before the beginning of my sophomore year, and expected to make a big splash on the court, but ended up breaking my wrist the very first day of training, leaving basketball behind for good.  Nonetheless, I felt a little better after a long healing process, a track and field stint (ended in injury), and leading my intramural team to an undefeated championship over a league full of ex-basketball players.

But I digress.

So, intrigued by what Andre had said about his being an NFL prospect, I made it a point to check out one of his home games and I was very impressed. I knew he was athletic because during pick up games, he could jump to the sky, and he was fast, but he also ran track. When I watched his game that day, I had never seen anyone on a football field jump so high to catch passes; he was amazing. But what I really respected about him was his work ethic. He spent a lot of time tracking back and forth to the weight room with the huge power lifters, his weight belt in hand, like clockwork. Kutztown had actually been known as a great power-lifting, art, and, well, party school during that era.

But there’s one more story I’d like to tell about Andre, about how I begged him to hook me up with his beautiful sister.   What did she look like?  Uhmmm, let’s just say she could stand next to an unknown Vanessa Williams and hold her own.  I mean, this “slim goody” had, like, green eyes (maybe they were just light-colored, bear with me, it was a long time ago), and curly hair. I happened to only meet her once, but I can’t even remember how; I believe she was just hanging out with Andre, walking around during a visit, and I asked Andre to hook me up a couple of times, of course after she was gone, although Allentown, their hometown, was 20 minutes up the road. I remember him laughing but agreeing to “hook a Brotha up,” however, it never happened. Imagine that, would you hook your sister up with a crazed college student foaming at the mouth? Probably not. And after that I used to ask Andre about her and he’d say something like, “yeah, I’ll talk to her,” and let you know.”

Well, you win some, you lose some. Nonetheless, CONGRATS to Andre; no one is more deserving.

 

 

 

 

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