Photo courtesy of www.beaumontenterprise.com
Editor’s note: An alternate and abbreviated version of this story appears in the October issue of Southland Golf Magazine
Former all-pro Buffalo Bills wide receiver Andre Reed, one of Journey at Pechanga’s most prominent golfers, achieved his sport’s ultimate accolade in August – induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Reed, who now resides in Del Mar, was inducted into the hall to the cheers of thousands of adoring fans and before millions more worldwide watching the broadcast live on the NFL Network.
The evening was the culmination of a 16-year career (15 in Buffalo) that saw him play in four Super Bowls and set numerous records connecting with quarterback Jim Kelly.
Kelly, who was battling cancer at the time and has since been declared cancer-free, threw Reed one last pass to cap an emotional evening for new Hall of Famer. Reed’s mother, Joyce, was also in attendance and from the podium he told her, “Tonight, you’re in the Hall of Fame too.”
About a month after the ceremony, Reed took some time to reflect on the evening and the achievement and also discussed his favorite San Diego course, Journey at Pechanga, and his neglected golf game amidst the Hall of Fame preparations.
Do you feel any different having been through the ceremony? How has being a Hall of Famer changed your life?
You’re noticed a lot more once you have those three letters (HOF) behind your name. It doesn’t just stand for what you did on the field. It’s also about how you conducted yourself. It stands for history, values and excellence and now you’re part of preserving that once you have a gold jacket, a bust and a ring.
You prepare for (the ceremony) for seven months and then in three or four hours, it’s over. It’s amazing how fast it’s over.
What does through your mind while you’re being inducted? What do you remember now?
On that night, you remember all the other players, your family and the fans and then after you remember what the feeling was like (the ceremony) – and you’ll never lose that feeling. It only happens once, so it’s pretty special. But you don’t just get it for a night. You’re a Hall of Famer the rest of your life. And those words start to sound pretty good rolling off your tongue.
Was there anyone you met who really made the Hall of Fame real to you as far as the magnitude?
Jim Brown. He is such an icon in the sport and for what he’s done for the game. He’s perhaps the greatest football player ever. To see him, really put it in perspective. I’m in the same category with the likes of Jim Brown and he’s now someone you can call a brother – and it’s forever. You can’t get kicked out or cut. You’re an icon forever in the football world.
Did you meet anyone else who impressed you?
The two guys I was in inducted with – Claude Humphey and Ray Guy – were both great guys.
I had to wait nine years to get in and I thought that was a long time. They both waited more than 20. They both got elected by the veterans committee, which makes you realize you don’t do this by yourself and you remember all the people who’ve had a hand in your success. I was really happy for them.
Now I’m one of the 287 like they are, and that’s pretty special.
It sounds like you sacrificed your golf season a bit to get ready for Canton?
Yeah, I try to play as much as I can, but it haven’t been able to play much this year with all of the Hall of Fame stuff going on.
How long have you been playing Journey? What’s your favorite hole?
Ever since I got introduced through Marshall Faulk’s tournament about five years ago, I’ve been playing at Journey at Pechanga. I think it’s one of the best courses in the county. I just love the ambiance of it. And No. 6 (the extremely elevated par-4) is my favorite hole. It’s very challenging. If you’re too far left or right there, you’re done.
What’s the best part of your game?
My game is scrambling. I can get it up and down pretty consistently. I make pars where most people make bogies because I can make a putt.
My favorite club is my 56-degree wedge. I hit that pretty well from I 100 yards and in when I’m playing more. That’s my game. You don’t score on the tee box.
What’s your best score and best shot at Journey?
I’ve broken 80 over there once – 78 or 79.
Best shot would on No. 10 (short par-4) a few years ago at Marshall’s tournament. The tee was up and I drove the green and ended up two feet from the pin. I’d have the quit the game if I’d made that. (Laughing.)
Do you like to practice at Journey and use the range and short-game area?
It’s a phenomenal place to practice. And the school they have is pretty nice, too.
And you’ve got to get to the range to get ready because it’s a very long course. And it can get windy and a little hot, but I always have a good time there.
I like Torrey Pines, but if I’m traveling to play, I’m definitely going over to Pechanga.