Reggie Kelly attended Mississippi State and was drafted in the second round of the 1999 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons, he went on to play in every game of his rookie season. He signed with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2003 and returned to Atlanta last year. He is now a free agent and still has a passion to play the game. Please enjoy the interview with Reggie and leave a comment below.
Tom Mullins- You’ve been in the league since 1999, what are some of your best memories playing in the NFL?
Reggie Kelly- My favorite NFL football moment had to be my first playoff game against the Green Bay Packers, the 2002 season, when I was with the Atlanta Falcons. We were the underdogs. We defeated them on their turf, no one thought we could do it. We made history that night.
Tom Mullins- Did you play a lot of football as a young kid? If so who got you into the sport?
Reggie Kelly- It was the norm back then to play football with the neighborhood kids especially after church, we would all gather and everyone took either a Walter Payton, Joe Montana or Jerry Rice. Playing sports was in my blood. We were all very active kids. I also played Basketball, ran track and was on the power lifting team in high school as well back in Aberdeen, Mississippi.
Tom Mullins- Tell us about your college football experience at Mississippi State.
Reggie Kelly- I was not highly recruited but there were a few options and I chose Mississippi State because it was close to home and they had a great program under Coach Jackie Wayne Sherrill. One of my most memorable moments playing there was in 1996 when MSU played Alabama and we beat them at home. MSU is one of the best schools in the SEC and I am happy to say I am a Dawg for Life.
Tom Mullins- What was your draft day experience like?
Reggie Kelly- Very low key, at my home back in Aberdeen, Mississippi with my Dad, Mom, Brother and my fiancé.
Tom Mullins- You started every game in your rookie season, how much confidence did that give you?
Reggie Kelly- It gave me a peace of mind to know that my transition from college to the pros became easier. To be thrown out there with elite players at such a fast pace and the consistent reps helped me to build my confidence and to try get out there an execute as they had brought me in too and do it effectively.
Tom Mullins- Why did you decide to sign with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2003?
Reggie Kelly- You know Cincinnati was not my top choice because they had not had great seasons prior, but my agent, Jimmy Sexton asked me to go and visit and I did, I was impressed with the talent there, the new coach (Coach Marvin Lewis) and the owner (Mike Brown). One thing for sure that was a no brainer for me was when Coach Lewis told me,” Reggie we already know what you can do on the field, but we need a man like you to help develop and teach these men about being men of Integrity.” I like the way Coach Lewis was trying to direct the team and I was sold on being apart of it after much prayer, because actually before the free agency started, my prayer was that the Lord would send me to a team that not only wanted my services but where I can teach men the true meaning of being men of integrity. So it was a no brainer after meeting with Coach Lewis that this was the team for me.
Tom Mullins- Tell us about your time playing for the Bengals, where you spent the majority of your NFL career.
Reggie Kelly- It was great, I miss the comradely we had in the locker room and on the field. The Browns, Coach Lewis and the Bengal fans were great to me and Cincinnati will always be home, because I spent most of my NFL career there.
Tom Mullins- How difficult was it to come back from a ruptured Achilles’ tendon?
Reggie Kelly- You know it took a lot of dedication on my part to follow the orders of my doctor, trainer and prayer. I knew all odds were stacked against me because I was an older Vet, but I wanted to give my all in rehab, because I had the passion to return. Technology is so advance now and I healed faster than predicted but all glory to God. I always thought, a minor setback is a setup for a comeback. I am back to normal and still have the fire even now going into my 14th season.
Tom Mullins- Why did you decide return to Atlanta last year?
Reggie Kelly- It felt good to come full circle in my career. They have a great program here under Coach Smith and I was excited to be playing alongside one of the future Hall of Famers in Tony Gonzales. It felt good to be back.
Tom Mullins- Do you have any pre-game routines?
Reggie Kelly- My pre-game routine consists of me starting off with my spiritual food (Bible), then I eat a Healthy breakfast, stretch before the game, listen to Gospel music and before the game, I talk to my wife and she always prays with me.
Tom Mullins- What advice would you give to aspiring young athletes?
Reggie Kelly- To be unique, be different, use all the gifts and talents God has given you and maximize them. Allow God to stretch every fibre of your being.
Tom Mullins- What can we expect from you next season?
Reggie Kelly- This is my 14th season coming up, I am a free agent. I still have the passion to play, I am training hard and I am excited to get the 2012 NFL season rolling. So any team that picks me will get a hard worker that is ready to come in and roll. I am hungry for a ring.
Tom Mullins- Thanks for giving up your time to answer a few questions and good luck for next season.
Reggie Kelly- Thank you for the opportunity. Thanks to all the fans and if any of you are on Twitter: ReggieKelly82 or Facebook: Reggie Kelly’s Fan Club or check out my website to learn more about me or any appearances this off season at http://www.reggiekelly82.com