Defensive end Nick Reed has quit the Vikings to pursue a career as a fighter pilot:
A year ago, almost to the day, Nick Reed signed a two-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings that would have paid him $1.2 million and solidified his status as a professional football player.
Instead, Tuesday morning Reed awoke before 4:30 a.m., made sure his room was fit for inspection, headed out to physical training and began what would be another exhausting 19-hour day that would trump the demands of any NFL training camp.
While Reed remains a bit confused as to why his NFL career was so brief, he is more than content to be among those elite recruits to be preparing to be a pilot at the Air Force Academy, now hoping to use his skills and athleticism to serve his country.
Reed, 25, was a seventh-round pick of Seattle in 2009, out of Oregon, and is one of the all-time sack leaders in Pac-12 history. For much of his life he felt two callings — one to football, the other to be a military pilot — and he is approaching the pursuit of being a fighter pilot with the same vigor with which he played football.
“When I was a kid my dad was in the Navy,” Reed said late Monday night, during one of the few spare minutes not accounted for by his rigorous schedule, “and he was flight surgeon — a doctor for the pilots. So he would come home and talk about that stuff with me, and I think that’s how I kind of got into it and knew that was something I wanted to do. Most kids want to be an astronaut or a pilot. I guess I never really got out of that stage.”