PITTSFORD – Buffalo Bills great Andre Reed is a week away from his Hall-of-Fame induction ceremony, and he says the long wait for football’s highest individual honor was worth it.
Reed will be one of seven men inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Aug. 2 in Canton, Ohio. He was elected in February in his eighth year as one of 15 modern-era finalists.
“It’s sweeter, there’s no doubt about it,” Reed said on a national conference call for reporters Friday. “If it would have happened four or five years ago, it would have been sweet. But I think the longer you wait, believe it or not, I think it’s better because you really appreciate it, to a certain point, what it means. … It really means more after all these years, because it seems like it’s even more deserving when you wait that long.”
Reed is the sixth man to get elected in his eighth try as a finalist. Among the others were receivers Art Monk, John Stallworth and Don Maynard. Only six men were elected to the Hall after more than eight tries as a finalist. The last of those was Pittsburgh receiver Lynn Swann, who was elected in his 14th year as a finalist.
Reed took a long view of the process.
“I think over the past five months, talking with Hall of Famers … and what they went through … I think the consensus is all the same, regardless of how many years it is,” Reed said. “Claude Humphrey and Ray Guy are going in with me this year. They waited 23 and 28 years, respectively. I think if you asked them the same question, they’d be like I know it took me that long but it doesn’t matter anymore. That’s the way I look at it.”
Reed was caught in a logjam with receivers Cris Carter and Tim Brown from 2010 to 2013. To his credit, Reed never publicly complained about not getting the call.
“These last nine years I just went about my business,” he said. “Of course it was always in the back of my mind because I heard it every year and there was times I was like, well, is it ever going to happen? I don’t know. I have to thank a lot of people for keeping me humble and telling me what the process is about. As every year went, I understood the process more, what you go through and what some of these other players went through waiting for that call.”
Second-year tight end Chris Gragg was back on campus Friday after spending two days in the hospital due to heat-related symptoms. Gragg did not practice.
“We’re still going to be careful about when we put him back on the field, so it’ll probably be a couple days,” said Doug Marrone.
Third-year fullback Evan Rodriguez, who spent a day in the hospital due to heat stress, was back in uniform.
The Bills added a cornerback, Bobby Felder, to the roster. Felder spent last season on the Tampa practice squad and the 2012 season on the Minnesota practice squad. He entered the NFL as an undrafted rookie from Nicholls State.
Meanwhile, the team moved rookie linebacker Randell Johnson onto the active roster from the physically unable to perform list due to a lower-body injury. Johnson is a seventh-round draft pick. Defensive lineman Colby Way, the University at Buffalo product, was waived.