College football fans didn’t get to see Gary Reasons play much college football, but scouts and sportswriters knew his name. In the early 1980s, the TV networks didn’t make a habit of televising Northwestern State Demons games. Before he was finished, though, the Crowley, TX native became the first player in NCAA Division I AA history to be named All American three times.
He made the transition from I-AA to the NFL without a hitch.
Reasons played eight of his nine seasons with the New York Giants, helping to anchor a ferocious defense led by all-time great Lawrence Taylor. The team went on to win two Super Bowl championships (XXI and XXV) during Reasons’ tenure.
Reasons came up big in the clutch situations and is best known for a certain key play during his career. What is best known as ‘The Hit’ came late in the 1989 season against the Denver Broncos. On a fourth and goal from the Giants one yard line, John Elway handed off to Bobby Humphrey who went airborne but was met at full speed in midair by Reasons. The massive collision left Humphrey short of the end zone. The Giants went on to win the game and later capture the NFC East crown.
Reasons eventually moved on to coaching and has established a 25 year television broadcast career as a college football analyst with FOX Sports, ABC Sports and ESPN. He has also forged a professional business career includes more than 20 years of IT sales and business development experience.
He talked with us about his sports themed office, boxes and boxes of football related goods and how he got his hands on Lawrence Taylor’s game worn Super Bowl cleats.
Tony Reid–. Do you remember the first time you were asked for your autograph?
Gary Reasons-Honestly, I don’t remember that far back and that particular time. I look at someone who asks me for an autograph as a very special occurrence. I remember my autograph influence as a youth. I grew up just south of Fort Worth, Texas. My mother had gotten Mel Renfro to sign a card when she was at an event in Dallas. I’m an eight or nine year old when I got that autograph. That left an impression on me. Every time I’m asked for an autograph I try to oblige and do so sincerely because I know it can be an impact on a young person who could even potentially have a career like I had.
TR– Many pro athletes have told me that when they first see themselves on a trading card it is kind of an “I made it” moment. Your official rookie cards appeared in 1989 Topps, Score and Pro Set. Do you remember the first time you saw your own trading card?
GR– I do remember those cards and those sets. The manufacturers that work with the Players Association and the league to develop those products. They were kind enough to share boxes and boxes and boxes of those cards with us. It’s all pretty cool. When you have that historical makeup it does kind of ring in your ears a bit. It’s really neat. Then you kind of file it back. I’m here in my office today in North Texas and I am looking across the room at a photograph, it’s actually a frame, of most all of the football cards that have produced of myself. I get a chance to look at that every now and then. I still, every single week, get letters in the mail asking for autographs on my cards. It is fun to see.
TR– You mentioned the office you are sitting in at the moment. Can you give us an audio tour of your office?
GR-I am actually sitting here looking at three open book cases of footballs, football helmets and all different types of Giants memorabilia. I have Super Bowl trophies, collegiate stuff that I have from Northwestern State, Hall of Fame materials and all different types of things that came along as parts of my career. I also have boxes and boxes and tubs filled with stuff my wife and I have collected over the years. I have all these boxes of VHS video tapes recording all of our games. I have all kinds of video footage that I used to take with my video camera with the Giants. Man, I have more stuff than I know what to do with! It’s a fun thing, so whenever folks come over to our home I’m happy to share this memorabilia with them. It’s really a blast.
TR–What was your experience playing for the Giants and their great fan base?
GR-Giants fans are rabid. They grew up with us, essentially. We had the two Super Bowl championships in the 1980s and 1990s. It’s been a long time coming. They aren’t doing so well right now but that will change again. I do try to be very respectful to fans because I know they live and die every Sunday with the team. It’s a cool thing to have a connection to a very large community in the New York metropolitan area.
TR–The story involving you and Lawrence Taylor’s Super Bowl cleats made major news a few years ago when you put them up for auction (where they sold for over $10,000). Can you tell us more about how you came into possession of L.T.’s shoes?
GR-It really was happenstance. The way the locker room guys set up the room in numerical. So, here I am in Tampa as jersey number 55 am I‘m next to jersey number 56. That was nothing out of the ordinary. Lawrence was going on to the Pro Bowl after the ball game. He literally threw his shoes down and said ‘I don’t need these.’ He was playing on Astro Turf in Honolulu. He didn’t need them. He didn’t care. I was just packing my stuff up. I was one of the last guys out of the locker room on my side. I just picked up his shoes and threw them in my bag. I took my while bag home. For years, I didn’t even open the bag. I had forgot that I had these cleats in there. Lo and behold, they were in there after all these years. I hung on to them and sure enough, somebody wanted them. It turned out to be a unique thing to be able to share a little bit of Giants history with a fan who wanted to have something special.
TR– The jersey swap has become a tradition in pro sports. If you could go back and swap with any player you played with or against, whose jersey would you want?
GR– Wow, I played against some of the greatest of all time, guys like Walter Payton, Jerry Rice and Joe Montana. Those are the names that pop off. The guy that lined up next to me for my whole career with the Giants, Lawrence Taylor, I would like to have his jersey. He is, literally, the best defensive player of all time. To have the honor of being able to play with him for my entire career with the Giants was truly special. How he conducted himself as a player, he was just a wonderful player. I could probably ring up Lawrence and maybe he would sign a jersey for me.
TR–Can you share a classic L.T. story with us?
GR-I will keep it ‘G’ rated. I look back at Lawrence and the thing I know about him, when he suited up to play a game, it was all out. He was all out every time the ball was snapped. Everything was completely full speed. Back in 1984 when I was drafted by the Giants, after minicamp, Bill Belichick he sent all of the vets out of the room and left the rookies there. He flipped on a video projector with Lawrence Taylor highlights just for us rookies to see. He said ‘Guys, if you want to play football for the New York Football Giants, this is what it takes.’
He clicks the projector and its Lawrence doing all of his magical stuff on the field. This guy was a man child. That was setting the level of expectation from Belichick to all of us new players, myself and Carl Banks included. That was a great takeaway that I kept all these years. It is so true because that is the level of effort that you have to have.