'That would be crazy.' How Troy Reeder knew he'd reunite on Vikings with star from Delaware
It actually started off as a joke, when Brian O'Neill came to the Los Angeles area in late January to train during the offseason and spend some time with Troy Reeder, his good friend from Salesianum.
O'Neill, a star right tackle for the Minnesota Vikings, had rented a house in southern California, as he has for the past few offseasons to train during the winter. This time, O'Neill moved in near Reeder, a linebacker who had just finished up the season with the Los Angeles Chargers and was about to become a free agent.
So O'Neill and Reeder watched the Eagles play in the Super Bowl together. And it was during the Eagles' 38-35 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs when they first started broaching the idea of playing together for the first time in 10 years, when they led the Sals to the Division I state championship.
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"We kind of made some jokes about it, and then (O'Neill) was like, 'You should come to Minnesota,' and I'm like, 'Imagine if I ended up in Minnesota in free agency. That would just be crazy,'" Reeder said Thursday in an interview with Delaware Online/The News Journal.
"And then as free agency opened in mid-March, I was able to (pepper) Brian a little bit with questions. I was like, 'Hey, man, this might be unfolding, that I could possibly end up in Minnesota. What do you think of the situation? How do you think I would fit in there?'"
Needless to say, O'Neill gave Reeder a good review, and Reeder signed a one-year deal with the Vikings on March 22. But it wasn't a tough choice. Reeder knew Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell when O'Connell was the Los Angeles Rams’ offensive coordinator.
And he often heard O'Neill rave about his Vikings teammates.
Reeder played for the Los Angeles Rams from 2019, when he signed as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Delaware, through 2021, when the Rams won the Super Bowl.
Reeder became a key player both at linebacker and at special teams. He started 25 games for the Rams in his three seasons, including in their 23-20 win over the Cincinnati Bengals in the Super Bowl in February 2022.
Reeder then signed a one-year deal with the Chargers as a free agent, playing for former Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, who had become the Chargers' head coach. He also reunited with former UD teammate Nasir Adderley, a safety who was the Chargers' second-round pick in 2019.
Reeder was used primarily on special teams last season, where he became a core member.
Reeder stunned that Adderley retired
Reeder was just as surprised as anyone else that Adderley announced his retirement a few weeks ago at the age of 25.
The two were good friends at UD and with the Chargers as well. Adderley started 15 out of the 16 games he played in last season, with two interceptions. He, too, was set to become a free agent.
"He's such a great competitor, one of the most competitive and tough guys I know," Reeder said. "You just associate guys like that with guys that want to play their entire lives. But the other thing I know about him is that he loves his family. He's a great dad, great husband and great son, and he's done a great job of educating himself outside the game of football.
"I know that it must have taken a lot of thought for him to make that decision."
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Reeder said he saw Adderley two days before Adderley announced his retirement because he had Adderley sign a helmet for a fundraiser for the SL24: Unlocke the Light Foundation, a mental health organization based in Delaware in honor of UD basketball player Sean Locke. Locke battled depression and died by suicide on July 18, 2018 − a few weeks before his 24th birthday.
Reeder said Adderley didn't let on that he was thinking about retirement.
Two days later, Adderley posted on his Instagram account: "After a period of self reflection, I have decided it’s time for me to walk away from the game of football. Over the past couple of years I have denied this realization, but I’m finally going to put myself first for once. My health is above anything, and everyone around me knows that ... My purpose involves spending more time with my loved ones, business ownership and chasing my passion of true liberation.
"I believe I have yet to scratch the surface of the player I could be, but if it’s at the expense of my peace of mind, then it’s no longer for me."
Another Reeder in the NFL?
Reeder, 28, has always been close with his brother, Colby, who's two years younger and eligible for the NFL draft in late April.
In fact, Reeder transferred from Penn State to Delaware in 2016 so that he could play with his brother at UD. The two grew up working out together, playing together at Salesianum, and then again at UD.
Colby Reeder, also a linebacker, spent his final season of college at Iowa State last season. Colby Reeder had 38 tackles, two interceptions and 1½ sacks in eight games, and was honorable mention All-Big 12.
Colby Reeder, who overcame several injuries during his college career, spent much of the winter at a training facility in Florida leading up to Iowa State's Pro Day on March 21.
"I think he's got all the upside in the world," Reeder said about Colby. "He's gone through a ton of adversity. I don't know how many people are tough enough to stick through it the way he has. He's put himself in a position to hopefully be drafted."
Busy offseason, but Reeder has an edge
Besides finding a new team, Reeder and his wife, Mary, also had their first child, a son named Beau born on Feb. 15. Reeder also plans to host the second annual Titus Free Community Football Clinic at the 76ers Fieldhouse in Wilmington in June.
Last year, Reeder, O'Neill and Green Bay Packers safety Darnell Savage, a Caravel Academy star, hosted 250 campers. Colby Reeder will join the trio this year. The clinic is part of a program to raise money to start a Titus scholarship to provide opportunities for local athletes who otherwise couldn't afford to train at Titus.
Reeder is happy to give back because he knows how tough it is to get to the NFL.
As an undrafted player, Reeder is entering his fifth NFL season, knowing that he has to scratch and claw for every opportunity. He credits Thorne, a science-driven wellness company, for much of his success with his diet, sleep and fitness routine on and off the field.
"I've always been kind of a dietary maniac," he said. "My dad (also a former NFL player) was, and he kind of instilled it in me in high school. Once I got to the NFL, I was like, (Thorne) would be a perfect partner for me ...
"You're looking for how can you improve that 1%. And what's the difference between you and the next guy who's trying to make the roster? For me, knock on wood, I haven't missed a game in years. ... I played over 100 straight games (between college and the NFL), and people say availability is the best ability."
Reeder has always been available, playing in all 66 games in four seasons, with 241 tackles, five sacks and two interceptions. That ultimately has given Reeder a chance to play with his high school friend O'Neill, on a Vikings team that made the playoffs last season and is expected to again this season.
"After winning the Super Bowl, one thing that gets tough is it's hard to imagine yourself ever going to a team that isn't in contention," Reeder said. "I want to play for teams that are competing for a championship, and I think Minnesota has that opportunity in front of them."
It didn't take a lot for O'Neill to convince Reeder of that.
Contact Martin Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.
This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: When Troy Reeder first knew he'd reunite with Brian O'Neill on Vikings