Exhibiting palpable enthusiasm, Minnesota Vikings legend, Jake Reed, arrived at the NFL Flag Clinic in Manchester with an overwhelming desire to inspire the kids to embrace the sport of American Football.
In a fantastic moment for the high school students at St Anne’s Academy, the sporting icon got stuck into the action, throwing the ball around and opening up on his memories of being a part of ‘Three Deep’.
The teenagers, who were taking their first steps in the sport, listened in awe to everything Reed had to say. And why wouldn’t they? After all, the wide receiver has proven that with hard work and determination, anything is possible.
Back in 1991, the Vikings selected the powerhouse as a third-round pick, and the rest, as they say, is history. The all-time great proved his status as one of the best to ever pick up a ball, becoming a hero in the eyes of the fans. With a sublime footballing IQ and an unrelenting will to win, the 213-pound monster joined forces with, Randy Moss and Cris Carter, to form the legendary, Three Deep, who terrorised the league in 1998.
Jake Reed loved playing in Three Deep with Randy Moss and Cris Carter
While the trio’s athleticism played a part in their success, Reed believes that they had one vital ingredient that set them apart from the pack.
In an exclusive interview with Sporf, he said: “I think trust. We trusted each other. When you’re playing with a bunch of great receivers like that, there are never enough footballs to go around. You gotta understand and put each other in that position, because in some games, I might have a good game, and they double-covered me. But then we break the huddle, and I switch positions with Cris Carter or Randy Moss to give them the ball. But just the opportunity to play with those guys was amazing.”
Jake Reed looks back on his time with Cris Carter and Randy Moss fondly
In 1970, pop star Joni Mitchell sang the iconic words: “Don’t it always seem to go, you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.”
And no one knows how powerful those lyrics are more so than Reed, who cherishes every memory he and his dear teammates have shared.
He confessed: “We had a lot of good times travelling on the plane, playing cards together. I think that the biggest thing I miss about being on a team is the camaraderie and locker room stuff. When you go back and think about those times, it’s priceless. You can’t bring those times back. We’re friends to this day, and I always enjoy seeing them. Every time we see each other, it’s like a big family reunion. Just being a part of Three Deep is amazing. When you’re in the moment, you don’t realise how special that time was. But now, when I sit back and look at everything going on in the NFL, I say, ‘We were pretty good’. Even my kids are like, ‘Dad, you really did what’? So, it’s kind of fun.”
Jake Reed enjoyed mentoring the kids at the Minnesota Vikings Flag Clinic
Bringing the spirit of Minnesota over to Manchester, Reed loved every second of teaching the kids the basics of the sport he holds so close to his heart. The 6 ft 3 beast took great pleasure in joining the youngsters for their first dive into the world of flag. And he was particularly impressed with the work ethic displayed by the girls.
He beamed: “There are some great superstars, I’ve met a couple of them. It’s so great to be out here and see a lot of young talent at their infancy stage of learning American Football. So, it’s been great walking around and talking to some of them.”
“If you want to play this game, just stay focused and continue to work hard. It’s a fun sport that everyone can play. The girls can get involved and have fun. I saw some of the young girls doing pretty good and catching the football.”
The youngsters taking part in the clinic look up to Jake Reed
When Reed was a youngster, he didn’t have a role model in his life to show him that his dreams were possible. But at the clinic, he had the opportunity to be the guy that the kids could look up to and serve as the catalyst to convince them to chase their goals.
The 56-year-old asserted: “I’d have been just like them when I started the game; I didn’t know anything, but I just had fun being out there with my friends, building team spirit and trust with one another and then you know who the best kids are when you’re growing up. If these kids stay with it, they can do great things in the next three or four years, and it will really take off over here.”
He continued: “Believe it or not, growing up, I never saw a professional football player coming out of my community. It wasn’t until I got to college that I realised I could do something in this sport and make it to the next level. Once I realised that I could do that, it was amazing. But to stay on the right track, you have to stay focused and continue to work when no one thinks you can do it.”
Jake Reed shouldn’t have used the word ‘soccer’
Ultimately, Reed’s visit to the school was a roaring success, with the kids coming away with a newfound passion for flag. However, they did have to correct the Vikings star on one very important matter.
Reed laughed: “I just want the kids at the school to have a great time; I can answer any questions they want to know about American Football. I’m an open book. I just got checked by some of the kids. I was chatting to them, and I said, ‘soccer’, and they corrected me and said, ‘What the heck is soccer’? So, they gave me a little lesson today about UK football, and I know there’s a difference with American Football. I learned that out here today. I’m willing to learn.”
Featured Image Credit: Jake Reed / Minnesota Vikings