Don Reddick
The Travelogues

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Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

DJ and Don
D.J. and D.R.
Spread out at the bar, three plates of half-priced oerduerves and two glasses crowding those of us around him. D.J. is forty-seven years old, and has played five years in the Canadian Football League at Edmonton, two years for the New Orleans Saints, and a year for the Detroit Lions. He lost it all, his career, his wife, and most of his money in the eighties when he consummated his romance with cocaine. He travels now as a motivational speaker, mostly addressing high school and college students. He is loquacious, affable, and likeable.

"My eyes are bigger than my stomach," he says, pushing the plates away. "I don't have a frig in my room, but it'll stay overnight in my car. Cold chicken's all right."

He shrugs.

"If I had to do it all again, I wouldn't have taken the drugs. I know what I do now is a good thing - one of the best things is, I had this kid the other day who was ready to go home and blow his head off. But he came up to me after my talk and told me that after hearing me speak, he had decided against it. That's the reward. I know this is a good thing I do, but if I had it to do again, I wouldn't have taken the drugs.

"The NFL - women are lined up. I didn't lose my wife because of infidelity, she understood. It was the drugs… I didn't have to hit or be hit, but my teammates respected me, respected what I did. It was my job. You win games as a kicker, you win 'em or you lose 'em. You know, kickers score the most points in football, look at the scoring leaders, it's always kickers with the most points. It's either you're a hero, or a goat. My worst moment was I missed a nineteen yard field goal, could've beaten the Dallas Cowboys. Wide to the right. Either a hero, or a goat.

"My son just set the North Carolina high school record for a field goal. Fifty-three yards last Friday. He's signed a letter of intent, in four years he can be making a million dollars a year. Kickers get about $230,000 a year now, that's where they start, in four years it'll be a million. I just tell him to stay away from the drugs, keep your head on your shoulders.

"This is what I live for, this is my daughter. She's twelve. My daughter and my son. You know, we got separated, and then got back together for three years before we finally divorced. But this is what it got me; this is when my daughter was born, so it was a good thing.

"I have a girlfriend on the east coast, one on the west coast, and one in the middle. They know about each other, they understand. Two of them are married. I love women. I love older women; older women have always attracted me. That one over there, the blonde, she's one helluva good looking woman. The one on the west coast, she lives in Monterrey, I'm crazy about her. Beautiful, beautiful woman, eight years older than me. I don't go to strip joints. All they want is your money. If I can't have it, I don't want to see it.

"You know, I achieved everything I ever wanted in this life, I played in the NFL. Canada is great, if you last up there they treat you like you own the city, but the NFL is the NFL. Flutie did great up there, he should be starting somewhere today, not backing up Tom Brady. Brady is overrated. Look at the team he's on, how good they are. It was wrong when they pulled Drew Bledsoe out of that first Super Bowl, and put in Brady. If I was Bledsoe, I wouldn't have accepted that ring. Toughest guy I ever played with, well, Mean Joe Green was tough, Reggie White was tough, and L.T., Lawrence Taylor, I played against Lawrence Taylor.

"Yeah, I guess I'm a lucky guy. I have a good life now, what I do is valuable, I know that. I understand if I hadn't gone through what I've gone through, I wouldn't be the person I am today, I wouldn't be doing this good thing I do. But if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't have taken the drugs, man. Wouldn't have taken the drugs."

The next evening he slaps me on my shoulder, and sits to my right. I tell him that I have written a travelogue about him, and have included some details of his womanizing that may or may not embarrass him. I ask if that is OK. The kicker mulls it over, a sheepish grin emerging onto his face.

"Just use my initials," he says, grinning broadly, and sips his beer.