The Pop-A-Shot basketball game had just been conquered by Keenan Reynolds. A couple of shots, most nothing but net. The effervescent smile once again stretched across his face, having made it all look easy in front of a handful of other players at the 22nd annual NFLPA Rookie Premiere. The former standout at the Naval Academy – both on and off the field – is among the most intriguing players entering the league in this year’s rookie class.
Despite a stellar collegiate career where he set records and won awards, Reynolds was not highly drafted. However, he has a background and appeal to business entities and marketers that few others can offer – his military service. He sat down with NFLPA to talk about what that opportunity is like, as well as the responsibility that comes with it:
NFLPA: Obviously, you come from a different background from the other guys – does that present a unique opportunity to do different things?
Reynolds: I think it just gives me a different perspective, coming from the military. Obviously, the military – the way you carry yourself, your image – is important. You’re in front of people and you’re leading, you want to give them instruction. If you don’t look the part, act the part of being someone with high character, you’re an ineffective leader. Those are things that I’ve tried to refine over the last four years to try and become a military officer. And I think that does bleed over to the brand side of the NFL – having to hold your character in a high state of integrity. Just taking care of your image, being clean-cut, ready-to-go and being squared away. Those are all important things in the Navy and I think that definitely gives me a leg up on the branding side.
NFLPA: Do you think some brands might approach you because of your Naval background?
Reynolds: I don’t know. I think each brand has what they’re looking for and you’re either going to be the person they want or not. I’m just going to take care of my part, continuing to do what I do off the field and on the field. Just handle my business and let the rest of it take care of itself.
NFLPA: You’re also a versatile player, do you think that is appealing in some ways? That you’re a true team player?
Reynolds: At Navy, it’s all about the team. It’s a team game, a team sport and individuals don’t succeed in this game. I think that’s a value that I hold very dearly and take seriously. I think it could help me down the line, as far as branding is concerned.
NFLPA: Being a pro player presents you with a unique platform. Being a military man present you with a unique platform. Is there a sense of responsibility to fulfill that to the max?
Reynolds: For me, my main goal in life is just to be impactful – in all of the areas that I touch. Whether it be military, community, football, I want to be remembered for being impactful. The type of person I was and the impact that I had on people. Because ultimately, people forget numbers, trophies will rust – but your relationships, the way you treat people will never go away. That’s what will live on. So that’s my goal in life and that’s why wherever I go, whatever I touch, I try to have that positive impact and have people remember how I treated them. I think that’s another big thing in the military, is the relationships. That’s the beauty of service and leadership – it’s all about serving the people that work for you.
NFLPA: Since you weren’t drafted high, is an event like this – where you can showcase those ideals to others – helpful to you as you start your career?
Reynolds: This is a pretty cool experience to be a part of. To be here and be amongst the top players in college football who are now having the impact in the NFL as we’re starting. This is a blessing. I’m humbled to be here, it’s a very awesome experience. The exposure, the opportunity to get out here and meet NFLPA partners, network, is great.