BATAVIA — Andre Reed endured a long, anxious wait to get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Nine long years, to be exact.
In less than two months, the wait will be over for the former Buffalo Bills receiving great.
“I was disappointed a lot of years. But it wasn’t up to me,” Reed said. “Now that it did happen, those nine years don’t matter.”
Reed will be part of the Class of 2014 in an induction ceremony at 7 p.m. Aug. 2 at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio.
Since he found out over the winter, it’s been an enjoyable — if hectic — time for Reed, who was in Batavia Monday for the Jim Kelly Celebrity Golf Classic.
He should have a large contingent of family and friends in attendance, in addition to Bills fans from Western New York who will make the trek down to Canton.
“The last four months have been very hectic. It’s like planning a wedding for like six people, and put six on top of those six people. But I’m planning this not only for my family, but all of Western New York and Bills fans everywhere. It’s going to be a nice celebration,” said Reed, who was a key figure in the team’s run to four straight AFC championships.
With the death of Bills owner Ralph Wilson, followed by the news that Kelly suffered a recurrence of cancer that he is currently battling, Reed’s induction will be a shot of good news for the franchise.
“It’s bigger than me. We all know what’s going on with the team, and all that kind of stuff. Jim’s on the sidelines and all this has been happening for the last six months,” Reed said. “This is like a breath of fresh air. I’m glad I’m at the forefront of this.”
Reed’s receiving numbers may not compare to some current stars in the now pass-happy NFL, but those who played with him and against him know how good Reed was.
Bill Polian, the architect of those great Bills’ teams of the late ’80s and early ’90s, compared Reed to former San Francisco 49ers great Jerry Rice for the ability to gain yards after a catch.
“He had to go in there in that traffic and do very heavy work. There was nobody better running after the catch than those two (Reed and Rice),” said Polian, who served as general manager of the Bills during much of their playoff success. “Andre Reed not being in the Hall of Fame left out one of the people who was a driving force behind this (franchise’s) great success.”
For Reed, the wait will be worth it.
(Bill Bruton Jr. is sports editor of The Daily News.)