From player to owner to fictional quarterback, Burt Reynolds had a strong football connection

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In the 1970s, Burt Reynolds was that guy. He just was. Cool, funny. Mustachioed. And he just didn’t give a crap. About anything.

One of the most searing images of my youth came while watching The Longest Yard at the drive-in with my sister, my mom, and a friend (it was the second feature after King Kong), and for the first time ever hearing someone (other than my friends and me) use the “F” word. (I just realized I probably had a fairly boring youth.)

Bigger than life is what Burt Reynolds was. Every movie he made was must-see, and he had a strong connection to football. From playing at Florida State to playing Paul Crewe in the original (and better) Longest Yard to playing Coach Nate Scarborough in the remake to partially owning a USFL team, Reynolds had a clear and strong connection to football.

John Bassett, as explained in Jeff Pearlman’s new book, Football for a Buck, recruited Reynolds to become a part owner of the Tampa Bay Bandits. Sure, Reynolds had only five percent of the equity (with a purchase price of zero dollars and zero cents). But he made a significant impact by helping to hype the team.

Reynolds arrived on the field via stagecoach, he showed up for a press conferences announcing the team’s name with bottles of bubbly and a mini-harem, and he gave all players a gold-dipped belt buckle and team jackets including the inscription “With Love, Burt Reynolds” on the inside.

He’s now gone, passed away at the age of 82. The last memorable reference to him in this space came in February 2017, when it was suggested that, after winning the Super Bowl that capped the year of his bogus #Deflategate suspension, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady should retrieve the game ball, jam it into Commissioner Roger Goodell’s midsection, and say, “Stick this in your trophy case.”

32 responses to “From player to owner to fictional quarterback, Burt Reynolds had a strong football connection

  1. Referring to his wild fame in the 70’s, he said “If you knew me back then, I apologize”

    That’s a genuine guy.

  2. “after winning the Super Bowl that capped the year of his bogus #Deflategate suspension, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady should retrieve the game ball, jam it into Commissioner Roger Goodell’s midsection, and say, “Stick this in your trophy case.”

    One more reason Burt Reyonlds is a true badass! RIP Bandit

  3. As a Pit fan, one of my favorite Burt Reynolds scenes was when he cracked Terry Bradshaw in the mouth in Hooper. 30 years later, Ole Terry needs another crack in the mouth. RIP

  4. Also, don’t forget Cannonball Run with Terry Bradshaw and Joe Klecko and the American debut of Jackie Chan.

  5. Whenever I read of an NFL player whose last name is Crewe, Crews, Crew, etc., I still immediately picture Reynolds’ character Terry Crewe.

    Most memorable and favorite are the “game ball” scene, and when Crewe rocket-fired a 60-yard bullet straight into the sadistic CO’s crotch about a yard away.

    RIP, and condolences to his loved ones.

  6. Im going to need a car…a speedy car…speedier than that…
    A huge part of my youth, and a one of the few guys I would have been speechless around had I had the opportunity to meet. RIP Bandit

  7. The coolest guy ever. Even his later roles in Boogie Nights and Mystery, Alaska were just outstanding! We will miss you Paul “The Wrecking” Krewe!!

  8. I am 58 now but back in the 70s early 80s my high school sweetie had crush on Burt Reynolds as did many many other young and older women did..Mr Reynolds was the good looking athlete that all of us dudes wanted to be he was funny and his laugh was just special it was him…im really sad hes gone I just dont understand why its being low key hardly talked about when he truly was and always will be a American Idol ..RIP Mr Burt Reynolds and thanks for the memories and someone who I looked up to..

  9. Great guy but refrain from describing his movies as must see. Sharkey’s Machine, Deliverance, and Longest Yard were very good movies during the peak of his career. And the whipped cream episode with Johnny Carson.

  10. Yeah being a kid born in 76 and growing up in the 80s i remember first seeing him as quint in gunsmoke reruns.I also remember him in deliverance..longest yard and cannonball run However he WILL ALWAYS be “The Bandit” to me. Like Thepopesrustynail said above “it feels like another little part of my childhood just died.” Such is life i guess. During childhood youre given things ie and later in life it takes away ie etc. So i guess everytime family and stars from childhood ie andy griffith..don knotts..michael jackson..prince..etc die its par for the ourse. Guess Bandit and snowman are reunited. Rip Mr Reynolds and tyvm for the memories

  11. Burt’s autobiography is an excellent read. He was honest, self-deprecating and reading it made you realize what a varied and fabulous career he had. As a previous post mentioned, another piece of my youth moves on. RIP

  12. Reynolds was always looked down upon by the stuff shirts in Hollywood. But his fans enjoyed his work on film and thought he was the epitome of cool.
    He was an actor who could play dramatic roles as well as comedic roles and he did them as well as anyone. It’s a shame he never really got the credit he deserved. And he always gave back to young actors and actresses, too.
    Rest in peace, Burt — you were one of the good guys.

  13. Someone asked Lee Corsoi what it was like to be Burt Reynolds roommate in college. His answer was “it was great, I dated all the leftover girls he didn’t want and they were all better than anything I could have gotten”

  14. We’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there I’m east bound, just watch ol’ “Bandit” run.

    Dude was made to drive that 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am!

  15. That version of “The Longest Yard” was far better than the remake. It was a much darker tone than the remake.

    “Deliverance” was another great movie. To this day, I have never looked at Ned Beatty in the same way.

  16. I feel that Burt Reynolds had as much of an impact on the lives of Americans as did the recently passed Senator John McCain. I have been disappointed in the lack of tributes.

    RIP Mr. Burt. I loved him and Dolly in Cheech and Chong’s Still Smoking movie! (j/k)

  17. average football player;

    average actor who did b-grade drive-in movies, with one notable exception, Deliverance;

    an inveterate womanizer who benefitted from the Hollywood system;

    lived the Hollywood lifestyle to such an extent, to his credit, he later apologised for doing so;

    he is a regretful loss, but why won’t anybody here tell the truth about this guy?

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