Gold Jacket Spotlight: Andre Reed's heart of gold matches his Hall of Fame jacket

Gold Jacket Spotlight Published on : 11/20/2023
Growing up Allentown, Pa., ANDRE REED was small of stature but wanted to achieve big things – whatever it took. 

Long before becoming a standout receiver, Andre played quarterback. When he got to college, Division II Kutztown University in his home state, he was asked to switch to receiver. Open to the idea and willing to do anything for his teammates and coach, he made the shift, starting down a historic path that this week brings him into the Gold Jacket Spotlight.

“As long as I can play and I can help the team win, I’ll do anything you need,” Andre said of the position move. “That was the beginning of a Hall of Fame career.”
Andre still calls on the values taught to him during childhood.

“My dad – a very stout, strong-minded guy, a construction worker – knew the value of what hard work meant: never quitting, perseverance, having respect for your opponent, having respect for other people,” Andrew said. “If you have those values, you can do anything in life.

“It’s those values that were at the forefront of my career.” 

A strong work ethic and those family values helped Andre compete in 234 regular-season football games over 16 NFL season. He finished his career with 13,198 receiving yards and 87 touchdowns on 951 catches.

The only accomplishment missing from his resume: a Super Bowl title. Andre was among the Buffalo Bills of the 1990s that dominated the AFC but went 0-for-4 in the biggest games.

Through that adversity, Andre was purposeful in powering forward.

“ ‘Quit’ has never been in my vocabulary,” Andre said. “Sometimes I didn’t want to do anything, but if it was going to be for the betterment of me, I’ll never quit. … You never know what you can attain if you don’t work at it.” 

That attitude and perseverance continued after Andre retired from the game.

In 2010, he jumpstarted the Andre Reed Foundation to help underprivileged children reach their full potential, aiding them to be successful in the future and contribute to their communities. The foundation supports local charities in Andre’s hometown, including the Boys and Girls Club of Allentown, Communities in Schools and Easter Seals. 

The retired NFL star’s foundation is most notable for READ with Reed 85. Andre travels to various communities and reads to children to amplify the importance of reading and education.

Andre said his goal for this community outreach is “to encourage kids to exercise their mind, tackle a good book and touch down to read at least 30 minutes a day.” 

“I was a club kid and made it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Now I represent what they stand for, and I know with reading … each underprivileged kid can do the same,” Andre said. “Reading is a way out.” 

Andre’s foundation uses his platform as a former professional athlete to make reading “cool,” stimulating kids’ interest in books and giving them a better chance at living a life they love. 

The Class of 2014 Hall of Famer displays how important holding a place on the team in Canton, Ohio, means to him by living the values of the Hall and displaying a heart of gold. When thinking about his career, Andre remains humble and credits his accolades to the people who supported him. 

“I look at it as an honor,” he said. “The representation of the Hall of Fame and what it means is an honor for me – to get to this point is not only a tribute to what you did on the field but it’s the people around you who made you who you are. … That’s what molds you into the person you are and acts as a foundation for you.”