Edward Reynolds is a football legend who went from being one of the league’s top players to the executive offices of the National Football League (NFL). He played in the NFL for the New England Patriots and New York Giants between 1983 and 1992. Before entering the NFL, he played college football at the University of Virginia.
Here are 13 things to know about life after football and beating cancer.
1. Reynolds loving ‘civilian’ life
Reynolds told News & Record that he likes life after professional sports. Gone are the days he is “swarmed by NFL fans eager” for an autograph or photo. Burt Reynolds says that is fine with him.
“Some people used to think I was crazy,” he recalled. “I’d stand there and sign for 30 minutes.’
He didn’t seem to have a problem adjusting to like off the gridiron. “A lot of people were surprised they didn’t see any of those depressing moods,” Reynolds’ wife, Pam, said. “He’s just been his happy self.
2. Reynolds has Basketball stature
When he was playing, Reynolds weighed 245 pounds. But he has the height of a basketball player. He is over 6-foot-5 tall.
3. Mr. Nice guy off the field, but not on
As an inside linebacker, Reynolds had to search out and take down whoever was carrying the football. He was so good at it his teammates on the New England Patriots voted him Most Valuable Player in 1989. That year, as well as the next, he led the team in tackles, News & Record reported.
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4. Growing up Reynolds
Reynolds’ father, Randolph, was a retired Army master sergeant and a tough disciplinarian to his kids. Reynolds and his siblings always has chores to do. Reynolds’s mother, Ada Scales Reynolds, was a former school teacher who stressed good grades and conduct.
“She stressed to all her children, ‘You’re no better than anyone else, and you treat people like you want to be treated,’” Pam Reynolds said. “(Ed) wasn’t a big-headed person, and I think a lot of that had to do with his mother.’
5. Sports with conditions
Reynolds had to make good grades, or his parents wouldn’t let him play sports at Drewry Mason High School. His grades–As and Bs–landed him in the Beta Club, an academic honor society. He was also class president.
6. Reynolds mastered sports
In high school he played basketball, football, and track. The University of Virginia offered him a scholarship to play football, where we went on to be an Academic All-American and graduate with a degree in education. He also left school with pro teams looking to sap him up.
7. How Reynolds met his wife
While in college he met Pam, then a student at University of North Carolina Charlotte while each was home for Christmas break. They both happened to go to a Stoneville, North Carolina, nightclub with their respective brothers and sisters.
“We danced all night, had a great time,’ Ed Reynolds told News & Record.
Four years later, they were married and went on to have four sons.
8. Life outside sports
During his football career, Reynolds served in the Army Reserves as an infantry officer/weapons expert, and oversaw training, operations, and security procedures for the 80th Division. He was also on the YMCA board of directors.
9. Reynolds joined NFL executive ranks
After his playing career, He worked 12 seasons with the NFL league office in operations and security. In 2009, Reynolds joined the United Football League as vice president, administration, and special assistant to the commissioner. He currently serves as the community development director for Hickory Grove Baptist Church.
10. Work with the NFL Legends Community
The NFL Legends Community “connects Legends with each other, celebrates their accomplishments, mentors current players and supports their community service,” according to the NFL website.
“The NFL wanted to help NFL alumni more. They didn’t want to call them alumni though. Every player was a legend at some point – in high school, college, the NFL…We wanted to help players be able to get together and commiserate about their playing days and to reconnect with teammates,” he told Steelers Takeaways. “We started calling guys to get them to sign up. The NFL has alumni chapters too but you pay dues for those. This is free and is more about giving players assistance on things like benefits, the HRA we got through collective bargaining – how to use that for reimbursement and with the NFL’s designated hospital network.”
11. Reynolds on cancer screenings
He worked with the NFL and the on American Cancer Society to promote the importance of cancer screenings, especially by NFL players. According to Reynolds, players are “really bad about getting a primary care doctor because we are so used dealing with our trainers, etc. We get spoiled.”
12. Reynolds had early detection
“If I waited longer to get screened I wouldn’t be here,” Reynolds reflected. “I am in stage 4 and will always be in stage 4.”
According to Reynolds he had gone in for a colonoscopy when his doctor noticed something was not right. They did a biopsy and found it was cancer. “She had a plan Immediately,” he said. “I went into surgery and they removed part of my colon. They also found legions on my liver and removed those parts. They pumped in chemo to my liver to cancer legions they might not have seen.”
13. Blessing and a curse
“Cancer is a blessing and a curse,” he said. “A curse because it is always with you and you worry about it coming back. A blessing because it makes you feel truly engaged in life now. Don’t be afraid to get screened. It’s the best way to protect yourself and your family.”
Photo caption: Ed Reynolds, https://footballplayershealth.harvard.edu/about/videos/ed-reynolds/ Ed Reynolds, official photo and stat card of the NFL 1991