Reid, a former Outland Trophy winner as a defensive tackle at Penn State and a two-time All-Pro with the Cincinnati Bengals in the early 1970s, is now Nashville's hottest star, as a vocalist and a songwriter. Last month he released his first solo album, Turning for Home, and one of the album's singles, Walk on Faith, is No. 1 on every country chart. Once called "the best defensive lineman in the country" by Nittany Lion coach Joe Paterno, Reid now draws praise from Bonnie Raitt, who recorded his composition Too Soon to Tell on her 1990 Grammy-winning album, Nick of Time. "He's got an incredibly soulful voice," says Raitt. "And he writes as well as he sings."
Reid, who played classical piano with several orchestras while he was playing football, retired in 1975 at age 27, saying he was "disenchanted with the system and pro football in general." When Reid hears that quote now, he laughs. "Athletes in their 20's haven't had their Copernican revelation yet," he says. "They still think the world revolves around them."
After Reid gave up his $100,000-a-year job with the Bengals, he decided to hit the country roads, touring small-town clubs and hotel bars. In 1980 he moved to Nashville to take a songwriting job, and in the decade that followed, he wrote 13 No. 1 songs for artists ranging from Alabama to the Judds. Last year Reid decided to do his own album. "There are two kinds of records you make," he says. "The first kind says to the buyer, 'Here's the album, give me your money.' The second says, 'Here's the album, this is what I have to say.' Only recently could I make the second kind."
Reid is planning to tour later this year and is working on a Civil War musical, A House Divided. He has also come to appreciate the game he once shunned. "I loved the theater of it," he says. "There's nothing like a bright Sunday afternoon, the band playing and everyone watching you. Geez, it was fun."
Then, sounding like the country songwriter he is, he says, "My past is what it is, and I have no regrets."
A Real Hoofer
This racer gives new meaning to the term "buffalo wings"
As baseball players headed south for spring training last week, an athlete of another sort was working out in Tucson to shed his winter weight—and coat—before the start of his season in April. His name is Harvey Wallbanger, and he's an 11-year-old, 2,000-pound Bison bison, or buffalo, from Rozet, Wyo. Harvey tours the country humiliating thoroughbreds, standardbreds and quarter horses in his specialty, the 110-yard sprint.
Owned, trained and ridden by T.C. Thorstenson, Harvey can do 110 yards in seven seconds when given a running start, which he gets at harness-racing tracks; out of a thoroughbred gate, he has been clocked in nine seconds. In five years of match racing, Harvey has lost just 13 times in 92 starts, and that's despite the handicap of having the 170-pound Thorstenson aboard.
A former bull rider on the rodeo circuit, Thorstenson has raised Harvey since the buffalo's mother was killed by a poacher when Harvey was only two days old. By the time he was three, Harvey was saddle-broken. One day Thorstenson was telling some rodeo friends that Harvey was "pretty quick." When one of the listeners scoffed at this, Thorstenson proposed a race matching Harvey with some quarterhorses at Energy Downs in Gillette, Wyo.—and Harvey won.
Since that race, Harvey has run all across the country, with as many as 25,000 buffalo gals and guys coming out one night to see him. A few years ago, he and Vanna White costarred in a Beauty and the Beast promotion at a track in Saskatchewan. But Harvey's favorite stop is still Buffalo (N.Y.) Raceway.