Former Nebraska wide receiver and current Detroit Lion Brandon Reilly joined Hail Varsity Radio Thursday afternoon to talk about last season in the NFL, a $900 Uber ride and Stanley Morgan Jr.
Here’s the full transcript from that Q&A session, edited for length and clarity.
Chris Schmidt: Talk about your last season and not sticking in Buffalo, how’d you stay active mentally and physically waiting for your next call?
Reilly: It wasn’t the year I had planned, went through some times of adversity, but when things really got tough I just kept telling myself things could always be worse, could always be a lot worse. That was the mindset I had and had to grind through some things and ended up landing a couple places but ultimately I ended up signing back with Detroit.
You know, I was having a great training camp in Buffalo, worked my way up and was running with the first team, then the first series of the first preseason game I came across the middle and broke my ribs. That wasn’t the ideal start to the preseason.
Initially, I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know exactly what. But I said, ‘It’s the first game, I haven’t made any plays yet, I’ve just got to keep going.’ Next drive I had a 60-yard catch and made a tackle on kickoff. I tried finishing the game and after I said, ‘Alright, we’ve got to check this out, something’s wrong.’ The X-ray showed a clean break so I missed about a week-and-a-half, missed the second preseason game, third preseason game I hardly played, the fourth preseason game I got in and had a couple catches.
Ultimately, Buffalo said it wasn’t enough and they thought the rib injury could linger all year so they let me go. It was tough but you’ve just got to keep moving forward.
So, I rehabbed. You can’t do much for a broken rib, just give it time. I just waited around at home, let it heal. It seemed like a team workout every week, so flying all across the country doing these team workouts. Had a great workout with the Saints, they seemed very interested and said they were planning to sign me and the last route I pulled my quad. That was another step backward.
CS: And then you end up signing with the Dallas Cowboys?
BR: I finished up in Detroit the last two weeks and they offered me a future contract. At that point, I declined it because I was thinking about playing in that new Alliance Football League with Kenny Bell and [Josh] Banderas and [Tyler] Hoppes and [De’Mornay] Pierson-El and Terrell Newby, they’re all on that Salt Lake Utah team, so I was about to head out there and play with them.
I was two days away from going there and then randomly, my agent called and said, ‘Hey the Cowboys want to sign you to their practice squad tomorrow.’ I’m like, ‘That’s weird.’ I did about 10 team workouts and not one of them was with them. I’ve never talked to them. But definitely couldn’t turn down that opportunity so I got out there and saw Brett Maher and Randy [Gregory] and Maliek Collins, so that was good. Just being around that team, it was a fun week and they offered me the futures and I didn’t sign it right then. I wanted to weigh my options. I was still thinking about that Alliance League and just figured if I got a few futures contract offers, I’d probably be foolish turning all those down and risk not having those offers when it comes down to it.
I weighed my options and felt like I had the best opportunity in Detroit. The GM reached out multiple times and showed his interest, that went a long way with me and that’s why I decided on Detroit.
CS: What interests you about Detroit?
BR: Two of their receivers are very high caliber guys who are for sure going to be there, with Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay. Just talking with them, they said it’s an open opportunity. They have a new offensive coordinator coming in and special teams coordinator. I kinda feel I can come in on an even platform. When I got there, one of the coaches said this is a real grind-it-out place and instantly I thought, ‘Well that’s an advantage for me.’ Where I come from and growing up in Nebraska, I feel that’s how a lot of Nebraska guys are. They’re just going to grind it out and do what they have to.
That really stuck with me and weighed on my decision a lot.
CS: What happened on this uber trip? How much did that end up costing?
BR: It ended up being $650 and I tipped the guy $250 because he had to drive all the way back to Chicago.
CS: So what happened, break this down?
BR: In Buffalo last year, we had a bye week so I came home to support Nebraska. I came back and I had a flight Sunday back to Buffalo out of Omaha, I think it was at about 2 or 3 [p.m.] and a connection in Chicago. I kept getting delayed in Omaha for mechanical issues. The weather was great so I didn’t think anything of it but it kept getting delayed. I checked my connection and it started getting down to it and I thought, ‘This is going to be close, I don’t know.’
We get on the runway [later in Chicago] and end up getting stuck on the runway in Chicago waiting for our gate to open. Finally, I get my phone on after we’ve pulled in and I get a notification that the flight left from Chicago to Buffalo and there were no other options. There were no other options into anywhere close.
It came down to either rent a car and drive all the way through the night or Uber. My mom didn’t want me driving through the night and I didn’t want to do that so I looked on Uber. It’s never a good feeling when you submit an Uber and it doesn’t show you the end price. I was like, ‘Well, here we go.’
The first two people I connected with, I called them and said, ‘Hey do you see where I’m going?’ And their answer is, ‘Oh, I don’t think I can do that.’ I said ‘I understand, I don’t blame you.’
I said I’d give it one more shot, called this guy and he said, ‘I just started driving, let’s do it.’ He picked me up and he made me feel a little better, he said he always drives at nights and he just started. Obviously told my mom and she was terrified. I told the guy whenever he felt tired, stop and I’ll get you coffee, Red Bull, whatever you need and he was very nice. Said he’d put headphones in so he could listen to music and I could sleep but I couldn’t really sleep because I was nervous he’d fall asleep.
Ended up pulling into Buffalo, into the facility at seven o’clock in the morning, had a team meeting at 7:30 [a.m.], followed by practice, and just had to grind through that day.
It was quite the adventure, that’s for sure.
CS: How many hours?
BR: Eight and a half. With a complete stranger through the night. Really works on your social communication skills.
CS: How’d the feeling out process go?
BR: I feel I’m a pretty outgoing guy so I just kinda broke the ice early. I said, ‘Yeah well we’re going to get to know each other pretty well here.’ So we just started talking about his family, my family, our interests and stuff like that. It went very smoothly, smoother than I could have ever expected. It was probably one he’ll never have to do again.
CS: Obviously not the season Nebraska hoped for but you’ve got to be happy for Stanley Morgan Jr., right?
BR: Absolutely. I’d text Stan and say, ‘Things aren’t great for the team, but the team looks up to you.’ You’d see it when someone else scored, if it was like Wyatt Mazour or somebody else scored, and Stan was the first one on the field celebrating. That’s just the kind of guy he is. He’s got a long future in football left ahead of him. I couldn’t be more proud.