Andre Reed has been overlooked his entire career. How can a guy who played his college ball at Kuztown University not be? From being taken in the 4th round to the countless times his name is left off the list of great 90s receivers Reed has made a career of quietly being the catalyst for one of the most innovative offenses of the 1990s.
So maybe we shouldn’t have been surprised when Reed was passed over, again, for the NFL Hall of Fame. The 2013 class had names such as: Bill Parcells, Warren Sapp, and Cris Carter. The receiver that gave Bills fans so many great memories during the franchise’s glory years was not on that list for the seventh time. This has to stop.
Hall of fame voting in every sport angers me greatly. It turns into a group of stuffy sports writers abusing the power they have been given to define the legacies of the sport’s greatest players. Old grudges are suddenly brought back into the foreground, or because a running back wasn’t Barry Sanders or Jim Brown they aren’t voted in on the first ballot. A Hall of Famer is as much a Hall of Famer today as the day they retired, and guess what: it’s going to be the same way tomorrow.
The truth is that Andre Reed has been a Hall of Famer since midway through his career. The numbers speak for themselves. Reed has been retired for over 10 years and still ranks 6th in receptions (he was 3rd at the time of his retirement) 10th in yards and 10th in touchdowns. Reed’s durability and ability to be open on almost every play coming from the slot position was such a critical part of making the K-Gun offense work as well as it did.
The NFL can only induct 4-7 members a year. For the past few years the debate has been how to arrange the great legacies of Cris Carter, Andre Reed, and Tim Brown. With so many other great candidates at other positions the every changing shuffling of these three names has been one of the most interesting stories at the Hall of Fame voting in recent years. This year one of those names got scratched off the list as Cris Carter got his overdo call to the hall.
Let’s be clear: Andre Reed, Cris Carter, and Tim Brown all are Hall of Famers. With Marvin Harrison entering the fold next year it is hard to say when Brown and Reed will get in this year, but I am here to tell you that Andre Reed should have gotten into the Hall of Fame before Cris Carter and should get in before Tim Brown.
First, let’s explore some of the reasons why Andre Reed isn’t in the Hall of Fame. The fraternity of Hall voters is a very tight lipped one, so the debate that is waged every year is largely kept secret. Some voters are more liberal with their analysis of each candidate and why they voted the way they did. Peter King wrote that he put Carter over Reed because of Carter’s superior touchdown numbers. Punishing Reed for his lack of touchdowns (although he is in the top 10 all time) is thinking along the same line as punishing a reliever in baseball for his lack of wins. Andre Reed is a classic slot receiver. He was smaller, quick, and great at getting open over the middle. He was not a home run threat like Cris Carter, or a red zone target. I really like and respect Peter King but his reasoning here can only be described as stupid.
The value of Reed went beyond the numbers. For everything that was great about Cris Carter and Tim Brown if you needed a first down on third and long, are you sending either of those two over the middle of the field? I’m not, but give me Andre Reed going over the middle and I have a lot more confidence. Andre Reed perfected the art of the yards after the catch. The fact that a slot receiver could score 83 touchdowns and rank in the top 10 all time means that Reed was able to take 7-10 yard passes and turn them into 30 or 40 yard touchdowns.
Andre Reed didn’t dance when he got in the endzone. He doesn’t say “C’mon man!” on an ESPN show, and he didn’t make headlines for hating Ralph Wilson the way Tim Brown hated Al Davis. Reed delivered with the consistency of a mailman and because he didn’t do it in a flashy way some people consider him to not be great. Those people are confused. The greatness of Andre Reed is found in his durability and consistency, oh, and the fact that he finished his career 3rd all time in receptions. Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Bruce Smith, and Ralph Wilson all mentioned the “future hall of famer” Andre Reed in their Hall of Fame acceptance speeches. It appears as though they know more than the sports writers who vote for the Hall of Fame because anyone who was actually paying attention should have seen that Andre Reed is a sure fire Hall of Famer.