October 30, 2014

Reggie Kelly on the Bengals, Free Agency, and Food

Kelly was an easy guy to root for during his time in Cincinnati.

I spoke with former Bengal Reggie Kelly, one of the nicest NFL players you could ever meet, for my upcoming book and asked him about a number of football-related topics, including our beloved Bengals. Kelly was a solid contributor, a standout blocker, and a stabilizing force for Cincinnati during his time in black and orange.

He played last year with the team that drafted him, the Atlanta Falcons, and is currently a free agent, hoping for at least one more season in the NFL. It’s probably unlikely Cincinnati would bring him back in Jay Gruden’s offense, but his wisdom, experience, and blocking skills could earn him a spot on someone else’s roster.

But just in case, Kelly has begun to establish some projects for life after football, including the Kyvan line of salsa, sauces, and seasonings that is now available at select Wal-Marts in Kentucky, Atlanta and in some other specialty stores.

Here’s what Kelly had to say about free agency, food, and his former team.

Do you still follow the Bengals?

I still follow the Bengals and I still have a lot of guys I keep in contact with. Jermaine Gresham and Chase Coffman, who’s not a Bengal any more, and Jay Hayes (the tight ends coach) and Coach Lewis as well. Obviously it is a business, but you can’t help but make some friends along the way. Those guys had an extraordinary year… The NFL is a game like that. You never know what’s gonna happen in a season. They made it to the playoffs. They didn’t go as far as they hoped to go, but at the same token, they had a great year.

Are you planning to play this  season?

It’s always been my dream to be honest with you to play in the NFL for 14 years. If I would’ve told someone when I was first drafted I was hoping to play 14 years, (they might have thought I was crazy)… When you get a little bit older, you definitely realize it’s a young man’s game and coaches are always looking for young guys to replace old guys. I’ve been one of those young guys myself. I understand it’s a business, but I may still have some time left and I’d like to lend my services to an NFL team.

How did your line of food products get started?

My wife and I are high school sweethearts, both from Aberdeen, Mississippi, and we’ve held a couple of camps for kids in Mississippi  who have some type of academic excellence. They get to go to the camp and get some free T-shirts and once we finish the camp, I always allow my family and wife’s family to cook for everyone. Everyone always talked about how good the food was. I thought, ‘Why not gather up the food products and get them mass produced and start selling around country?’

For more information on the Kyvan products, click here.  You can also follow him on Twitter, @ReggieKelly82.