By Teresa Varley
Kicker Jeff Reed is one of nine finalists in the NFL's "Super Ad: Believe in Now" promotion and if there is anyone that should believe, it is Reed.
Reed has come a long way since he signed with the Steelers as a free agent mid-way through the 2002 season after proving himself during a tryout at Heinz Field in adverse weather conditions, the story that he shared with NFL Films for the ad.
This year he was voted the special teams' captain by his teammates, something that he considers a great honor.
"It's an honor, not only to be a captain but captain of this team," said Reed. "It's tougher for a kicker or punter to be in a situation like that. It shows a lot of respect from my teammates, so it's a great feeling."
Reed played sports as a kid, but never really looked at football as his main sport until his senior year of high school. While at North Carolina he only kicked for two seasons, but quickly stood out.
Reed has been a steady, consistent performer for the Steelers, providing plenty of big plays for the team, including a game-winning field goal against the Baltimore Ravens in overtime at Heinz Field this year, a kick which earned him AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors.
"You have kickers, punters and returners making big plays on special teams, and to be singled out in the whole AFC is pretty awesome," said Reed.
Reed shared his story of how he became the Steelers kicker with NFL Films before the start of the season, and fans can now vote for him to be the player who is featured in the ad, which will air during Super Bowl XLIII on Sunday, Feb. 1 on NBC.
Reed highlighted the first question he asked after he was told he made the team.
"It was after my tryout here, which I think was average at best," said Reed. "There were three other guys; we all kicked decent, not great and not terrible. I had never kicked on a field like that or in those conditions in my life. I had kicked in cold conditions, but not like this. There were high school uprights, there was sleet and it was windy. It was right before the high school games. It was late November. Everyone was slipping and sliding around.
"We went back to the locker room and they said wait here. Kevin Colbert and Coach (Bill) Cowher need to talk to you. One guy went up, came back and said good luck. I was the last to go up. They had all come back and said good luck so I wasn't sure what was going on. I went up there shook hands and they congratulated me and told me I would be kicking that Sunday. It was a whole new level of excitement. I thought this day would happen but until it's reality you never know.
"I was excited and I told them I didn't bring extra clothes or a tooth brush or anything so I asked if I could fly home that night and be back first thing in the morning for practice. Kevin looked at me and said well if you don't kick good on Sunday, you can stay home."
Fans can vote for Reed at www.nfl.com/superad until January 4.