Roommates in Army Are Rivals in NFL : Jets’ McElroy, Patriots’ Reynolds Get Ready for Another Camp
Maybe sometime during the upcoming NFL season, Reggie McElroy and Ed Reynolds will meet face-to-face as opponents on the football field. If so, they might draw on some of the experience they gathered while roommates over the past four months.
McElroy is a tackle for the New York Jets. Reynolds is a New England Patriots linebacker. On June 21, their class graduated from Infantry Officer Basic Training at Ft. Benning in Columbus, Ga.
Both began military training through ROTC programs in college as something to fall back on if their football careers did not work out. Now they’re second lieutenants, waiting to be assigned to a reserve unit and preparing for a different kind of camp--NFL training camp.
“The NFL can end tomorrow, there’s no real security,” said Reynolds, who was born in Stuttgart, West Germany, where his father Randolph was an Army combat engineer. “I definitely need something to fall back on. Plus this is an opportunity to deal with people.”
During the 17-week course, McElroy and Reynolds might have learned a few things that will help them as football players.
“It was about the same as training camp, but more mentally demanding,” said McElroy, a 6-foot-6, 270-pounder who became the Jets’ starting left tackle last season. “It taught me how to survive.”
McElroy and Reynolds join St. Louis running back Stump Mitchell and Patriots defensive back Ernest Gibson in the reserves. Unlike the two linemen, however, the others aren’t in the infantry.
“I always say, ‘the bad, the bold and the stupid are in the infantry,” said Reynolds, who shared an apartment with McElroy during basic training.
Members of the reserve are obligated to report one weekend each month. NFL players get their obligations suspended during the season, so they serve a two-week hitch during the summer.
McElroy, a 25-year-old Beaumont, Tex., native who lives in Westbury, N.Y., may be stationed at the 78th training group in Edison, N.J. His contract with the Jets expired last year, however, and he wants to wait until signing for 1985 before he commits himself to the New York-area.
Reynolds, who attended the University of Virginia and lives in Ridgeway, Va., hopes to be stationed near home.
Reynolds, 24, can see the military as a possible career after football. While training in the 100-degree weather at Fort Benning, the 6-5, 230-pounder got some work that might prolong his NFL career, though.
“They ran us pretty well,” he said. “We ran two, three miles a day, then my platoon trainer had me run sprints when we were marching in formation. At first it (basic training) feels like it’s never going to end, then all of a sudden it’s over.”
It wasn’t long before McElroy was running sprints alongside Reynolds. The former West Texas State star feels the four-month camp will bolster his NFL career, just as his six-week stints during his college days helped.
“The Army has helped me in my career,” he said. “Every camp helped me mature. During my younger years in college, I didn’t believe I’d ever make it in the NFL. ROTC and my degree (in phys ed) are two other areas I can go into. I’ll probably stay in the active reserves after my playing days.”