Morristown West’s football theme this season is “fortitude,” and the team could not have found a better speaker for their annual Trojan Kickoff Classic banquet who exemplifies the definition of that word.
Hall of Fame member Andre Reed delivered his remarks to the team Thursday night and reflected back on his career that allowed him to play 16 years in the NFL and participate in four Super Bowls. A native of Allentown, Pennsylvania, Reed said his community was similar to Morristown in size and structure and the sport he loved allowed him to become one of his cities’ most accomplished residents. “I was like a lot of kids, I had a paper route and I went to the Boys and Girls’ Club. As a kid, I never thought a street, a park, a stadium and a field would be named after me. It goes to show that you can do anything you want to do if you work hard.”
Reed said he experienced a tough childhood and that he found his release on the field of competition.
“Sports was my way of kind of getting rid of all of that, sports had a way of making all that go away,” he said. “All of the things I saw were bad, but being out on the football field really helped me out.”
After a successful high school career, Reed played at Division II Kutztown University where he caught the attention of pro scouts. He was drafted in 1985 in the fourth round by the Buffalo Bills. That was the start of a career that would eventually take Reed to a spot among the sport’s elite in Canton.
“I had dreams and goals like everyone else but I am only one of 328 people who have a jacket like this,” Reed said, pointing to the yellow Hall of Fame jacket he was wearing. “I’m blessed. I was in Israel a few years ago and got baptized in the Jordan River so football took me to places I never thought I would go. It has taught me so many things about life that I think it is my duty to tell that to high schools, that it doesn’t matter where you come from, what color you are, what kind of talent you have, you have to work hard. Hard work works.”
The same values the sport of football taught Reed were ones he stressed the importance of to the Trojans.
“Football taught me, and my coaches taught me, and my parents all taught me that words like perseverance, resiliency, never quitting, respect and dignity are important in who you are,” Reed said. “I have been blessed because I have come in contact with some great people. They have patted me on the back and they have kicked me in the butt and we need that because life isn’t going to be a walk in the park. You will have to buckle down and realize who you are and what you are made of.”
Reed had two pieces of advice for the West football players as he concluded his remarks, advice he got from his parents. “Every single day you have to challenge yourself and every single day there is a choice. A good choice, good result, bad choice, bad result. If you put in 50 (percent), you are going to get 50 out of it. If you put in 100, you will get 100 out of it. Second, be responsible. Be responsible on the field, off the field, in the classroom. You will definitely go up in life if you be responsible.”