New England Patriots wide receiver Bernard Reedy Jr. spends his offseason a little differently from most NFL players.
Reedy moves from the NFL season to a second job in which he makes $11 an hour.
He works as a driver providing transportation to people who use wheelchairs.
It’s a job much more rewarding than the paycheck.
But the job Reedy has held since 2015 has had to be put on hold as the 26-year-old wide receiver is now headed to the Super Bowl.
“It’s just surreal. I feel like the more I read my Bible, the more doors open,” Reedy told ESPN’s Jenna Laine. “For the most part, my dream is coming true. I’m in a place that I always thought about being when I was younger as a kid.”
Reedy, who entered the league in 2014 as an undrafted free agent out of Toledo, has overcome a plethora of adversity — from spending the whole 2015 season out of the NFL, to rehabbing a knee injury in 2016, to being released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in November.
But now he finds himself gearing up for the greatest game of them all, the Super Bowl.
“Sometimes I don’t even know what to say,” said Reedy. “Just gotta kind of sit back and thank God at just [how] blessed and how fortunate I am to be in the position I’m in, just going from trying to make a team, working at the same time, scratching up dimes and pennies and putting all [my] chips in [to now]. But I always feel like if you give 100 percent [good things will happen].”
Reedy believes that his offseason job as a Care Ride driver has helped him overcome the odds to reach his dream.
“It’s just ironic that I’ve had a job like that in the situation that I was in,” said Reedy. “To be around positivity and listen to people go through what I went through — I went through it sportswise and they went through it in life. It was tough to want to play and to want to be on somebody’s team and [I] just [didn’t] get the break yet, but I also thought, ‘What about the people on life support? What about the people who can’t walk that want to walk again?’ That stuff’s way more serious than running around and playing football.”
Reedy’s job is to provide transportation to people battling terminal illnesses and recovering from strokes, heart attacks, organ transplants, amputations and serious accidents.
The Bucs released Reedy on Nov. 20, but the Patriots scooped him up two days later.
Reedy appeared in two games for New England, returning four punts for 32 yards, before being sent to the practice squad. He was dropped from the team after the regular season ended.
That’s when Reedy reached out to Care Ride operations manager Vince Cocks to say he was coming back to work.
“He said, ‘Mr. Vince, can I come work for a while?'” Cocks said. “And I said, ‘Well, Bernard, this is kind of odd, but your [Department of Transportation] physical expired in October. You have to get a physical.’ And in all likelihood, he’s in the best physical shape of anybody that Care Ride ever hired.”
Reedy’s time back at work would be short-lived, however, as the wide receiver got the call once more from the Patriots, wanting him back.
It’s unclear whether Reedy will play in the Super Bowl come Sunday, but his hard work has caught Bill Belichick’s attention.
“He’s a great kid,” Belichick said. “He’s been on and off our roster in a couple different roles — from practice squad to active roster, returning kicks, playing receiver and so forth. He’s a great kid, works hard, he tries to do everything we’ve asked. He’s trying to continue to develop his career and build off what he did in Tampa.”
Perhaps most excited for Reedy’s opportunity is his favorite client, Carlos Velez, a 70-year-old veteran who served in both Korea and Vietnam.
Velez is legally blind and has undergone a kidney transplant and brain surgery, but that doesn’t stop him from telling everyone he knows about his friendship with Reedy.
“He’s a real, real nice guy. He can be the best football player, the star of the world, but he’s got his people back here, the poor people and everything, and he’s always with them,” Velez said. “That doesn’t go to his head. That is the reason I like him, because of the way he is.”
Velez remembers telling Reedy just a year ago to never give up.
“Sometimes in the road, you’ve got a lot of stones and holes and everything, but if you keep going and going, you will make it,” Velez said. “You will go to the end of the road. … Never give up. Keep going. No matter what.”
Reedy appears to have taken those words to heart as he now finds himself living out every young football player’s dream.
But as soon as the season ends, Reedy will be heading back to his other job, which is rewarding in a different way.
“As soon as our offseason officially starts,” he said, “I’ll be back at Care Ride when I’m able to. The work don’t stop. Everybody still needs help.”
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