"The greatest thrill I've ever had in coaching is to watch guys have that confetti fall on them"

By Andy Davies

Ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft in Las Vegas, Andy Davies speaks to Montreal Alouettes special teams coordinator and Sky Sports NFL analyst Jeff Reinebold:

A Coaching Legacy

At SMU, Jeff worked with future NFL receivers Emmanuel Sanders, Cole Beasley & Aldrick Robinson

“The greatest thrill I’ve ever had in coaching is to watch guys have that confetti fall on them.”

“It was almost surreal to me to think, I saw Sebastian Vollmer play a football game at 16 years old and he was 6″4, 205 pounds, could hardly speak English and then I’m watching him at 6″6, 330 pounds protecting Tom Brady in the Super Bowl. Oh my gosh, think about that.”

These are the thoughts of Jeff Reinebold, current Canadian Football League coach and Sky Sports NFL analyst, when talking about players he has coached that have gone on to win a Super Bowl.

From wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Aldrick Robinson to offensive tackle Vollmer, Jeff has coached some brilliant NFL players in a coaching career that has spanned over 40 years, including spells as a coach in college and in the CFL. He also is best known to the UK audience for his work with Sky Sports as an analyst for the NFL coverage. 

I spoke to Jeff in his Las Vegas hotel room as he, Neil Reynolds and the team at Sky Sports prepare for the NFL Draft.  When speaking to him, he told me that there is expected to be around 750,000 people in attendance. 

Jeff got the chance to speak to first round prospects such as Garrett Wilson, Malik Willis, Aidan Hutchinson, Ikem Ekwonu and Kayvon Thibodeaux and told me how he found them all to be “humble, good guys.”

Football Foundations

Jeff Reinebold as special teams coordinator of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Credit: Getty Images

With the life that he has had, Jeff has been in the company of some of the biggest names in the sport. When asked the question of which three people dead or alive he would have at his fantasy dinner table, he said he would want his dad and Super Bowl winning head coach Dick Vermeil, who he said was – next to his father – the biggest male influence of his life and a tremendous person. His final person was college Hall of Fame coach Woody Hayes, although he said there was “a lot of competition for that third spot.” 

Was it always football growing up for Jeff? He told me how due to his dad’s work as a baseball coach, and how he lived in Oregon, Indiana, and Florida just to name a few places. He spoke of this experience as a child and which NFL team he supported in his youth. 

“When you’re travelling as a team, I can remember being 10 years old, travelling 8 hours to play a game, people from all over the place of all nationality. 

“It was really a great place to grow up. Because we bounced around so much, it really forced us as kids to be able to adapt, to go to a new school, not know anybody and be able to survive.”

“The Lions were my first team. I’m probably at that age 6 I would guess at that time. I was just beginning to fall in love with football. I’d watch the game on TV with my dad and I said to him, I want to get some autographs from some players.” 

“So, my dad came back a couple days later and he handed me a book. It was the addresses of all the NFL teams. He gave me a stack of envelopes, some paper, and a pen. He said to write all those teams and ask them. The Lions were the first team that answered. I can still remember the pictures of Alex Karras, Mel Farr, Dick LeBeau. It made such an impact on me that for years I was a Lions fan.” 

“I remember watching the Raiders and they had this receiver called Fred Biletnikoff. He was the coolest dude in the world for me. He was beyond cool. That was the start of my love for the Raiders.” 

“I had an opportunity years later to coach against Freddie in Pro Football. I remember going over and talking to him before the game. I was just as excited as a 35-year-old man as I was as a 15-year-old to have the opportunity to shake his hand.”

"There Are Two Types Of Coaches: Those That Have Been Fired, And Those Who Are Going To Get Fired"

Jeff Reineold has a coaching career spanning four decades. Credit: Scott Grant (CFLPhotoArchive.com)

Jeff initially played defensive back for the Maine Black Bears before becoming the offensive graduate assistant coach for Western Montana College before turning 25. Jeff talked about his playing career being cut short due to injury and how he got into coaching. 

“I went to Maine as a receiver, I got hurt. They moved me to defense. I remember my senior year. I was hurt again. I ruptured my bicep. They let me play but I had to go into the head coach’s office and had to sign this waiver because I had the ruptured bicep. He looked over the desk and said, what are you going to do when this is over. You think you are going to play forever? 

“At that point, I was so beat up that I didn’t realise that was the last football I was going to play. He said, Jeff you’ve probably got six games of football left in your body. He said I should coach. I went home that night; I remember calling my dad and said I think I want to coach. Here was 30 seconds of silence. He said, you do, do you?” 

His dad gave him list of reasons why not to coach in an attempt to test his son and make sure he was as Jeff said, “All in.” He certainly was, with a career in coaching that has been with him ever since. 

Jeff is the new special teams coordinator for the Montreal Alouettes after spending five of the last seven seasons with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Their most recent season ended in an appearance in the Grey Cup, where they unfortunately came up short. There have also been spells as a head coach, but these did not go how he envisaged.  Every year, there is coaches on the ‘hot seat’. With experience in it himself, Jeff spoke of the sympathy he feels towards those that are fired from the league. 

“You learn real fast in this business. There’s a great quote by the late great Bum Phillips. He said there’s two types of coaches; those that have been fired and those that are going to get fired. You can’t take it personally. There are so many factors that are involved. 

“I was probably in my mid-30’s when I got my opportunity, and I wasn’t ready for that job. It was a tough situation. There were a lot of things I didn’t know going into it. 

I was young, I wanted to be a head coach and I took the first opportunity I could take. It was painful at first and this is where I gain empathy. Matt Rhule in Carolina, he’s got his back up against the wall, watching Matt Nagy go through it in Chicago; I understand what they’re going through.

When you are the boss, the head coach. You’ve probably got twenty-five families that are depending on you. Not only do you fail for yourself, there’s twenty-five other families that are going to have to relocate, find a new job, kids are going to have to find new schools. It’s a tough situation.”

From NFL Draft To The Hall Of Fame

Jeff working as an analyst for Sky Sports

As stated earlier, Jeff is in Vegas for the draft. But who does he think will go number one overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars? 

“I think there’s a big division right now about that. I think it’s got bigger the last few days and I talked to somebody very close to the decision and there is concern about who to take because, not because you think the other guy might be better, it’s because you don’t want to fail with the pick. There’s no Joe Burrow in this class.”

“There’s potential for any of these guys that’s being talked about for the first pick, to be a bust. As an organisation, that costs you an awful lot. There are organisations that don’t want to pick first unless there’s a clear winner.”

“That all being said, in my mind, Aidan Hutchinson is the best guy in the draft. In my opinion, he’s the cleanest prospect in the draft. He’s not without issues. He got a great motor, he’s extremely smart, he’s a team guy, he’s a great leader. He’s all the things that Jacksonville needs. He’d play on the other wide to Josh Allen. It makes a lot of sense.”


Finally, I asked Jeff who he would add to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and who he would kick out. He did not feel anyone deserved to be removed, but told me one player he feels should be inducted. 

“Steve Tasker, who played for the Bills, was the greatest special teams player in the history of National Football League, actually redefined the position, the meaning of being a special teams player. His son Luke played for me, and I’ve had an opportunity to get to know Steve real well – and Steve is a Hall of Fame person as well as Hall of Fame player.”



A current Sports Journalism masters student, Andy has been writing NFL articles since January 2020. Originally from Wales, Andy also writes for pro football mania and dolphins talk, as well as appearing on podcasts and videos for euro tripz. find him on twitter @andydaviessport.