Andre Reed, who ranks seventh in NFL history with 85 postseason receptions, became a household name by playing in four consecutive Super Bowls for the Buffalo Bills in the early 1990s, games that were broadcast to tens of millions of fans across the country.
That background made Reed quick to answer three years ago when television producer Peter Lenkov asked him at a party whether he had acting experience.
“Every Sunday I acted on the football field,” responded Reed, now living in San Diego.
Lenkov later followed up with the 16-year NFL veteran, offering a chance for a cameo appearance on his CBS drama “Hawaii Five-O.” After a successful spot on the show in January 2017, Reed hit the airwaves again last week for Lenkov’s “MacGyver,” also on CBS.
This week, Reed received an invite for Lenkov’s newest series, “Magnum P.I.” It was a welcome development for Reed, 55, who wants to grow his career in acting.
“The funny thing is you do these little things and it turns into something else,” he said Wednesday. “When I go into something, something I’m really excited about, I put 100 percent into it.”
Reed was a fourth-round pick of the Bills in 1985 and his NFL career blossomed alongside those of quarterback Jim Kelly and running back Thurman Thomas — whom Reed joined in Canton, Ohio, upon his induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014. Though he caught 951 passes for 13,198 yards and 87 touchdowns before his retirement following the 2000 season, Reed still had to earn his roster spot when Lenkov first called.
After their initial meeting, Lenkov sent Reed a script to memorize and asked for a video to be sent back of Reed reading it. Reed passed the test and was flown to Hawaii — staying at the same hotel as his seven trips to Honolulu for the Pro Bowl — for taping. The two-day shoot involved Reed being investigated for a murder as the general manager of a car dealership.
“Everything is timed,” Reed said. “You can mess up a couple times, but every time you mess up, it’s like, you’re money. You’re messing up.”
Despite needing about five takes to nail his lines, Reed performed well enough to get called in February to a shooting for “MacGyver” at a parking garage in Atlanta two days after Super Bowl LIII. The approximately six-hour shoot began at 6 a.m. and saw Reed, playing the role of a prosecutor, speaking into a cell phone outside his vehicle before being stabbed.
“Maybe one of these times I should pay an athlete,” Reed joked of being killed off on the show.
The entire cameo on “MacGyver” lasted about 10 seconds, but Reed found similarities to his playing experience in both the preparation and precision required for the brief appearance.
“I kind of just pictured myself in a certain situation in a game where they were relying on me to make a catch or be that guy to make the big play,” he said. “What they see on TV, you don’t see behind the scenes. It’s like what the fans see on Sunday — there’s a lot of preparation that goes into that. All week or practice, film work, all the things that need to be studied to making everything work the way it should.”
Reed, who has also spent his retirement promoting reading in more than 15 states for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, still felt the pressure of the taping.
“It’s different than [when everybody is] watching you in a stadium than when somebody is real close to you and watching what you’re saying,” he said.