By John D'Onofrio
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Andre Reed’s not just on the Buffalo Bills “Band Wagon” these days, he’s driving the horses.
The former Bills’ great — linked forever with Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Bruce Smith and so many other Bills greats from the Super Bowl era team of the early 1990s — spoke briefly with the Union-Sun & Journal on Saturday during an autograph signing session at the Bewley Building downtown.
The event, sponsored by the Niagara County Deputy Sheriff’s Association Correction and Dispatchers, was held to raise funds for Niagara Hospice and Kids Escaping Drugs.
Though he’s living in California, Reed says he keeps up on the Bills’ activities in the offseason and likes what he’s seen this year in particular.
“It’s my second time here in Lockport, but I can’t remember where I was the first time I was here,” quipped Reed, one of the National Football League’s all-time greats in games played (234 games between 1985 and 2000, 59th most played in NFL history), receptions (951, 10th all-time) and yards (13,198, 9th all-time).
“I think the expectations are a lot higher this year. They did win a lot of games at the start last season, but this year, with the moves they’ve made in free agency and in the NFL Draft, — particularly on defense — they’ve made a number of improvements so that expectations are obviously higher,” Reed said.
Reed has been a finalist for the National Football League Hall of Fame every year for the last six years, but has been voted down. His take on the matter? “If it happens, it happens,” he said.
Among those from Niagara Hospice on hand at the autograph signing session were CEO John Lomeo, special events coordinator Mandy Raff and special intern Anna Robbins.
“This is how we survive — people in the community giving their time, energy and money to support a great cause, so that we can help families from Niagara County deal with end-of-life illnesses,” Raff said.
Buffalo Hall of Fame offensive lineman Joe DeLamielleure and the team’s current starting running back Freddy Jackson have been in Lockport in recent weeks, thanks to the efforts of NCDSA member Jeff Newman and others.
Reed’s coach in Buffalo, Marv Levy, will be in Lockport next month for an autograph signing session downtown and plans are also in the works to bring Buffalo Sabres, past and present, to Lockport as well, beginning this fall.
Reed played in four consecutive Super Bowls with the Bills (1991–1994) and was selected to the Pro Bowl in seven consecutive seasons (1988–94). Reed set season career highs with 90 receptions in 1994, 10 TDs in 1991, and 1,312 receiving yards in 1989.
He was drafted 86th by the Buffalo Bills in the fourth round of the 1985 Draft and played 15 consecutive seasons (1985-1999). He retired as a member of the Washington Redskins after the 2000 season.
For more information on this or future events, call Ed or Jeff at 713-7141 or 438-3374.