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The Volunteer Army
Douglas S. Looney
November 14, 1994
That's what Ed Reinhardt's folks recruited to fight his devastating injury
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November 14, 1994

The Volunteer Army

That's what Ed Reinhardt's folks recruited to fight his devastating injury

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Another day, Ed is at a Chinese restaurant. A teapot is brought to the table. He carefully picks it up and pours the tea into his cup. Except that it doesn't go into the cup; it goes directly beside it, onto the table. Double vision snares him again. "Nine years," he mutters. "Nine years."

So how does the Reinhardt family feel about the game of football?

"I don't care much for it." Pat concedes, "but then, I never did. But you can't protect your children from everything, and they don't welcome that protection." When Ed was a senior in high school, she suggested that he take one of several basketball scholarships he had been offered instead of football. "No, Mom," he said. "I love football. It's my favorite sport."

Ed Sr. says, "Ever since the boys began playing football, I've supported and encouraged them. After Ed got hurt, I thought it would be a little hypocritical of me to tell them to quit." His only admonition: "Play hard."

Tom Reinhardt, heavily recruited, chose to go to Colorado the year after his older brother was hurl. Years later, Tom recalls, he went into McCartney's office and saw a picture of Ed on the coach's desk. Tom liked that a lot. And these days, the youngest of the Reinhardt children. Matt, is a sophomore light end at—incredibly—Oregon.

"The blessing of athletics," says Ed Sr., "is that they taught Ed the discipline to do his rehabilitation. I have no regrets. Something else could have happened. This is what happened."

And Eddie himself still loves football. "Great opportunity, preparation for life," he says. "Coach Mac, great man."

The other day Eddie was in Boulder to have his picture taken in Folsom Field. He walked from the Colorado locker room toward the field, past a sign that reads THROUGH THESE DOORS PASS THE NATION'S TOUGHEST COMPETITORS, SHOW IT TODAY. He looked at the sign. "Read that," he asked a companion. When he heard the words, he gave the thumbs-up sign.

Later, looking out over the stadium, Ed's mood turned dark. He said, "Ten catches, two touchdowns, then bong"—he hit himself on the head with his hand—"next game. Doggone it."

It helps that the Reinhardts had often talked of the perils of the game, and Ed liked to remind his parents, "Risking is the essence of becoming." So when the two Oregon players who made the fateful tackle, Wilkens and Williams, came to visit Ed, Pat comforted them, saying, "You just happened to be present when a risk-taker had an accident."

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