Publish Date: 09/22/2021
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis
Mike Reid was a special breed. He retired from the NFL after five years of being one of the most fearsome defensive tackles in the game to pursue his life’s passion: music. It’s rare for someone to have the ability to play professional football or be a successful musician, yet Mike Reid achieved success at both and the highest level. In his life, he has been an Outland trophy winner, an all-pro football player, and multiple Grammy Award winners. Mike Reid is truly one of a kind!
Reid played at Penn State for the legendary Joe Paterno and went on to help lead the Nittany Lions to a combined 22-0 record during his junior and senior seasons. In his senior year, he won the Maxwell Trophy as the college football player of the year and also won the Outland Trophy as college football’s best interior lineman and finished 5th in the Heisman Trophy balloting. Years later, Joe Paterno told Sports Illustrated that “he had coached many great players while at Penn State and that Mike Reid was at the top of that list.”
Reid was the seventh player selected in the first round of the 1970 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals and made an immediate impact helping lead the Bengals to the playoffs in only their third year of existence.
In 1971, Reid established himself as one of the best pass rushers in all the NFL, recording 12 sacks, which he equaled the following season. In 1973, he had his best season, recording 13 sacks while helping lead the Bengals to the playoffs.
1974 was the beginning of the end for Reid as hand and knee injuries limited him to just seven sacks for the season. Even with limited playing time, Reid was named to the All-AFC team for the fourth straight season. However, the mounting injuries and his desire to go back to his first love made his decision to retire from the NFL an easy one. Reid was so talented that, during his playing days, he had played with the Utah, Dallas, and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestras, respectively.
After retiring from the NFL, Reid tried to start his band around the Cincinnati area but had limited success. Finally, he got his big break when in 1980, he moved to Nashville, where he quickly became one of the top songwriters for performers like Ronnie Milsap and Larry Gatlin.
In 1984, Reid won his first Grammy for writing Ronnie Milsap’s “Stranger in My House.” After that, Reid would work with Marie Osmond, Collin Raye, Alabama, and Conway Twitty, to name a few. In the 1980s and 90s, Reid wrote twelve number one hits, including co-writing the Bonnie Raitt hit “I Can’t Make You Love Me.”
In 1990, Reid signed with Columbia Records as a recording artist, and his first solo album produced the number one country hit “Walk on Faith” and in 2005, was elected to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
If you watch the film of Reid at Penn State and with the Cincinnati Bengals, you will realize he was a significant enough player to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Mike Reid is a special breed that should be celebrated instead of being an afterthought. Very few people have ever reached the pinnacle of their profession in different fields. Mike Reid is one of those “very few,” which made him honestly “One of a Kind.”