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Football player was a writer first


Vail Daily
(01/06/2005)

By David L'Heureux

A look at Reggie Rivers' life quickly reveals how he got to where he is today.

Rivers was born at Wright Patterson Air Force base in Dayton, Ohio. Like many Air Force families, his was always on the move.

After just one year in Ohio, the family moved to England, then to Florida, and Greece before settling in San Antonio, Tex.

In high school, Rivers excelled at football, but it was writing that was his true passion.

"Most people probably think of me as a football player that became a writer, but it's really the other way around," said Rivers, whose first newspaper job was writing obituaries for the now-defunct San Antonio Light.

Rivers' success on the football field in high school earned him a full scholarship to Southwest Texas State University, where he majored in newspaper journalism.

"I always had dreams, but I never really thought I'd play in the pros," said Rivers. "I knew I would have to have something I could rely on outside of football, and I always knew that it was writing. I always wanted to be a reporter."

By the time Rivers graduated from college he had racked up 2,500 rushing yards, numerous academic awards, and he'd been named an All American four times.

Pro teams weren't exactly kicking down the doors, but a Broncos' scout saw him and told him he might have what it takes to make it at the next level. So, in 1991, Rivers moved to Denver and tried out for the Broncos.

He made the team, and played with the Broncos for six years as a running back and special teams star. "Every year I went back to training camp I would ask myself, what am I going to do if I don't make the team this year? And every year I would keep making the team. I was just happy to be in the same locker room as John Elway," he recalled.

During that time, Rivers continued to pursue his journalism career. The Rocky Mountain News approached him about doing a training camp diary where he would talk weekly with a reporter about what was going on at camp, and what the experience was like.

"Instead of waiting for the reporter, I just typed the article up myself, and they liked it," said Rivers. "From there, they just had me do it myself."

Rivers' writing career blossomed. He now writes a weekly column for the Denver Post, co-hosts Countdown to Kickoff on KCNC Channel 4 (CBS), writes for Pro Football Weekly, and works as an analyst for ABC's college football division.

What best defines Rivers' career as a football player may be the things he did off the field, not on it. He is the recipient of many civic awards and the benefactor of numerous charities.

"That's just the way it has always been for me," said Rivers, whose father was a Baptist minister. "I grew up in a church. If someone in the church needed help, you helped them. It's a way of life. As members of a community, we all owe something to each other."

Rivers says no one really makes it on their own. No matter what you achieve in life, there are always going to be people that help you out along the way, he said.

"To get to the NFL, and to go to college for free, and to have a career doing something I love, I feel like I owe it to people to pass that on to the next generation of kids," said Rivers.