Andre Reed is now knocking on Canton’s doors for the third straight year in a row, looking to finally be able to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Someone should come and open the door for him already.
Reed has put up the numbers needed to enter the Hall, and more significantly, had the impact on big games that the other elite players have had throughout the history of the league.
When Reed ended his 16-year football career, he was ranked No. 3 all-time in receptions and No. 4 in all-time receiving yards.
Even eight years after his retirement from the game, Reed still ranks tied for sixth in career catches, and 10th in yards to go with ranking 10th in career touchdown receptions.
The people passing him though have greatly benefited from Reed helping create the slot receiver position and the opening up of the passing game.
The only players to pass him since his retirement in terms of receptions were Marvin Harrison and Isaac Bruce. Terrell Owens is currently tied with him with 951 catches.
Reed also has tight end Tony Gonzalez (35 catches away), Torry Holt (82 away), and Randy Moss (108 away) in his rearview mirror but again, those players greatly benefit from what is now the slot position and/or the opening up of the passing game.
In terms of career receiving yards, only Bruce, Harrison, Owens, and Moss have passed him since he hung up the cleats.
A common misconception is that the Buffalo Bills, during the Reed years, were a pass happy team when that is not the case.
During his career with Buffalo, the Bills ran the ball 51 percent of the time and during his six most prime years; the Bills averaged 479 pass attempts during the regular season. In 2008, that would have ranked the Bills 25th in pass attempts.
Reed was also by far the best wide receiver on the field during his tenure with Buffalo.
While most teams in the NFL are trying to find a solid No. 2 receivers to help out the No. 1 target, Reed never had that.
Take a look at Lee Evans on the current Bills team for example. What is the main concern on the Bills offense today? They don’t have a No. 2 guy to take the pressure off of Evans. They have the running backs (Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson) but don’t have that true No. 2 guy.
Reed caught 317 passes in his first five years with the Bills squad when he was paired with the likes of Chris Burkett (137 catches in the five years with Reed) and Tremaine Johnson.
Even during the 1990 season, when Chris Lofton emerged as the No. 2 wideout, Reed still dominated. Reed has 71 catches compared to Lofton’s 35.
Andre Reed was also known for his run-after-the-catch ability. Reed’s career yards-per-catch average of 13.9 yards is better than six of the other receivers in the top 10 in all-time catches including Marvin Harrison, Cris Carter, Tim Brown, and Art Monk.
It showed his toughness, and his ability to run over the middle of the field to catch the football. Today, wide receivers aren’t as quick to run a route over the middle as Andre was during his career.
His quarterback Jim Kelly, a Hall of Famer himself, had this to say about his favorite target: “I think he was one of the greatest ever to play the inside position at wide receiver,” Kelly said. “I knew throwing him a 5-or 6-yard pass, he could turn it into a 30-, 40-, 50-yard touchdown or a big run. . . . One-on-one, his strength, his run-after-catch ability was unmatched. I think he’s definitely in the top three or four with run after catch ever.”
Other players around the league took notice, too.
“He helped define what we all know now as that slot position,” said cornerback Albert Lewis, a four-time Pro Bowler from 1987 to ‘90. “And in my opinion the only guy who played that position better was Jerry Rice.”
Eleven-time Pro Bowler Rod Woodson also had great respect for Reed: “He had the body, he had the strength. He was tough. He was elusive. He was hard to bring down and you better bring him down or he was gone. To me he’s everything you would want in a Hall of Fame receiver. To me he’s everything a Hall of Fame receiver should be.”
Reed also had the accolades to go along with the respect of people all around the league. He made it to seven consecutive pro bowls during the 1988-1994 seasons.
He was also named to the Associated Press’s second team all-NFL team twice and was named to the All Conference Team by Pro Football Weekly four times during his career.
Not only did he have the career numbers (951 receptions, 13,198 yards, and 87 touchdowns), the accolades, and the respect of his players, he also stepped up in the big games.
During the 21 postseason games that he played in, he caught 85 passes for 1,229 yards and nice touchdowns, becoming one of the players who helped lead the Bills to four straight AFC Championships.
In the 1990 playoff shootout game with the Miami Dolphins, the Bills would not have won that game without the four catch, 122 yards, and two-touchdown performance from Reed.
How about in 1991, when his touchdown catches of 25 and 53 yards, helped blow out the Kansas City Chiefs 37-14?
And then came one of his greatest games and what he is known for most in Buffalo, a three touchdown, 136 yard game in the greatest comeback in NFL history against the Houston Oilers in the 1993 Wild card matchup.
Some people bring up the point that Reed couldn’t do anything on his own though.
He helped the Bills win that game without other Hall of Famers Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas (both out with injuries).
Not to mention that late in Reed’s career, when he was in his mid-thirties, he still put up good numbers with the likes of Todd Collins and Alex Van Pelt throwing the football to him.
Fellow Buffalo Bill, Bruce Smith, is a sure thing to make the Hall in his first season, will Reed be there to join him this Saturday, or will the writers try to keep him out again?
As far as former Coach Marv Levy is considered, he deserves to be in.
"Andre may be one of the most underrated receivers that ever played the game," said Levy, a fact that is clearly becoming evident in the Hall of Fame voting. "He deserves to be in.''
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