You might have read or heard or been told that former Steeler Jeff Reed was ejected from the Hall of Fame Game this past Sunday. Well, whatever you read or heard or were told was wrong.
“I’m glad you (you’re giving) me the opportunity (to explain what happened),” Reed said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “A lot of people – a lot of athletes, a lot of celebrities, whatever you consider me or other people – a lot of people have (other people) run their social media, and I don’t do that. If I’m going to interact with people, whether it’s fans or businesses, I’m going to do it. I don’t want people speaking for me. So I wrote (the apology I issued). I’m a journalist. That’s why it sounded pretty intelligent. It wasn’t two sentences saying I’m sorry. The only reason I’m sorry is because it put the organization in a bad spotlight. I apologized to my family as well. But I did nothing wrong. I’ve been in the national news spotlight for actually hitting a paper-towel dispenser – and that did happen. I don’t think it’s that newsworthy, but then again, that paper-towel dispenser is very popular and always will be with me.
“But I don’t want to take up your whole 8 o’clock hour,” Reed continued, before delving into what happened Sunday night. “Basically, I went (to the game) with my bosses. I’m the finance manager of the No. 1 jeep dealership in the Southeastern United States, which covers 13 states and over 300 dealerships, and I went with the owner, his right-hand man and about five other guys that work in the dealership, and I treated them to that because they’re all Steeler fans. I thought it’d be cool for us to get away because we work some long, grueling hours.
“That being said, we went to a bunch of events and I shared my Super Bowl rings and stories and photos and selfies and anything – jokes, anything you can think of. I’m a pretty outgoing personality with all my fans, even some Minnesota Vikings fans. The game came around. I missed the kickoff because I was signing autographs. Finally came down the stairs. I went back up to get some water, and on the way back down, this guy – and I’m not going to say on the radio station because it’s not appropriate – he called me every name you can possible think of.”
For no reason? For no reason, Reed said.
“This guy was four or five rows up from me,” Reed recalled. “He was sitting on the aisle. I was in the middle of a bunch of fans. I wasn’t even sitting with the people I came with because I was moving around taking pictures. I watched about five minutes of the game, but it was a great experience as a fan.”
But then things got dicey.
“As I’m walking down the stairs, there was no contact, there was no fighting, there was no pushing, there was no punches thrown, none of that stuff,” Reed said. “But he called me every name in the book. He said I was worthless as a person and he hated me since they signed me and I proved to him that I was an unworthy individual of even him cheering for. He used some choice words that I won’t use, but I looked at him in amazement.”
Eventually, Reed admitted he responded with a few choice words of his own. Then he saw that there were children in the area and he apologized for what he said.
“It was very embarrassing, actually,” Reed said. “So this guy continues to go on, continues to go on, and then you get to the point where other people are kind of telling him to shut up in a nice way so nothing will happen.”
Reed then returned to his seat for about 20 minutes, during which the heckler continued to heckle. At that point, Reed went to the concourse, approached three police offers and explained the situation. Reed said that the heckler needed to be removed.
“I was a bigger man,” Reed said, “and a lot of times when I was younger and playing, I probably would have – not attacked the guy because I’m not really a violent person, but probably would have made it worse than it was.”
Reed chatted with the police offers for a bit, and then – with about four minutes left in the game – went to the concourse and left the stadium. Somehow, someway, someone reported that Reed had been ejected.
It reminded Reed of a time when he was sitting at a bar drinking water with his sister. Someone then reported that Reed was cheating on his girlfriend and chugging vodka.
“People can do that and because you’ve been seen with (an) alcoholic beverage, (so) everyone just believes what people say,” Reed said. “And that’s what happened here. To me, honestly, this is something you learn from and I learned that I was the bigger person in the situation that occurred Sunday night. But the thing I really get out of it is I have to be careful for the rest of my life in every situation I’m in and every person I’m around. I got rid of a lot of people that I was close to because I felt like they were a negative influence. I battled depression for three years after football. Seeing stories like Junior Seau and others, I can totally relate. I had those thoughts as well. I just knew that was a selfish act, so I didn’t do it.”