Nick Reed leaves NFL dream behind for fighter jets


The obvious career move for a player who has seen his time in the NFL come into the end is to jump into the cockpit of an F-16. Right?

Well, former defensive end Nick Reed is attempting to make that very move having seen his NFL career come to an end.

According to Jason La Canfora of, Reed has joined the Air Force and is working toward becoming a fighter pilot.

I would like to be a fighter (pilot),” Reed said. “Flying jets is cool and I would love to do it, but it’s very competitive and depending on when I graduate there might not be any spots available. You need a lot of skill and luck to make that happen. If that doesn’t work out then I will have a pilot’s license and I’m excited to fly.”

Reed’s time in the NFL was short-lived. Despite being one of the all-time sack leaders in the (then) Pac-10 conference, Reed was just a seventh round draft pick of the Seattle Seahawks in 2009. He appeared in all 16 games as a rookie with Seattle and recorded 17 tackles and a sack in limited playing time

The highlight of Reed’s NFL career was a 79-yard fumble return for a touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars as a rookie with Seattle. A knee injury led to his release by the Seahawks with an injury settlement at the end of training camp in 2010. He resurfaced with Chicago and Tampa Bay and went to training camp with the Minnesota Vikings last season but couldn’t latch on with a roster for the season.

Soon after he found out he had been accepted into the Air Force and decided to jump at the opportunity. Reed is on track to begin pilot training in June.

“I’m proud to say I played and got to do it and had that opportunity and I was lucky got to play. But I wasn’t ready for it to be over. Not that I regret this track I’m on,” Reed said.”…But once you’re gone, you’re gone. When they’re not answering your phone calls anymore you have to move, and everything happens for a reason.”

21 responses to “Nick Reed leaves NFL dream behind for fighter jets

  1. Nick Reed never got the chance to prove himself.
    I wonder what his call name will be.
    PaCSack …
    (or someone think of better one)…seriously
    I do wish him the best.

  2. Good luck to him, I loved this guy in preseason for the Hawks that year. He had an incredible motor. Wish you well serving our country!

  3. If he makes it, he may be the biggest fighter jockey ever, even if he’s slimmed own since his playing days.

    Good luck, Nick. It’s good to see that you’ve moved on, unlike so many other former players. And thanks for choosing to serve your country.

  4. I was excited for his career, he was a preseason beast in Seattle, didn’t see much of him after that. If the consolation prize is a pilots license, that’s not a bad deal.

  5. Another former Oregon Duck make good….I got the privilege of watching him & his class achieve greatness on & off the field. Go Nick, rock the SKY!

  6. Agreed about the motor. There was one play on a kick return during preseason, he was coming first on the return man, and got blind-sided by a wicked block…he went sideways out of the camera field of view. Looked like he was taken out of the play, but he got back in and made the tackle.

    A buddy of mine has season tix, and I told him to pay attention to this rook. Sure enough, Reed made another high-motor play that next week, too.

    Was disappointed to see him injured and leave, and it’s too bad his football career didn’t take. But I hear that flying at Mach 2 and pulling 9-g maneuvers is kinda fun, too.

  7. He joined the Air Force?
    The Navy has more planes than the Air Force and the best pilots in the world. Yes,I’m biased as a former squid. Doesn’t mean it’s not true.
    Go NAVY!

  8. Better than Titus Young’s post NFL career. Anyway, I hope gets to fly jets but like he said, it’s extremely competitive. Maybe more so than the NFL.

  9. I hope he makes it through pilot training and I wish him well. When I was on active duty in the 80’s I had a former Lions defensive tackle who became a navigator in my squadron after he decided he didn’t want to play anymore.

  10. As much of an accomplishment as it was to be in the NFL, even for a shortwhile, I personally feel it’s a greater accomplishment to be able to fly a jet for the US Military.

    I bet the adreneline rush of traveling at mach speed beats sacking a QB.

  11. Finally we hear about someone being productive after football. Way is it all we ever read is so and so beat their wife, got busted with drugs, or blew their money and are now filing bankruptcy. Congratulations Nick, and good luck.

  12. Much respect and best of luck, he’s going to need it. Not only is it incredibly competitive, but there are also insane body measurement restrictions to be able to become a pilot. Height, weight, functional reach, length from butt to knee, sitting height, etc…

  13. I hope he makes it come true. You want to talk about competition? To be a pilot in the Air Force or Navy, you’d better be top notch. Not only with the physical tools, but you better be smarter then the next guy. Good Luck.

  14. Good thing he didn’t go to the Navy, where the best pilots wind up flying “cargo planes full of rubber dog s**t out of Hong Kong”. Navy pilots just looooove the ambience to be found at Diego Garcia.

    Air Force is the best way. Mahalo Nick.

  15. Sincerely…All the luck in the world to you. But the Air Force might be fibbing a little here about fighters. Can you say C-17?

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