The Never Ending Football Journey of Jeff Reinebold

Jeff Reinebold is still making a difference wherever he goes

There is some question as to whether true football nomad Jeff Reinebold has ever met anyone he didn’t like. If he has, he certainly has never let on to anyone. Whether on a football field, in a locker room, in a coaches’ meeting room or Sky Sports television studio in London, England, Reinebold makes each person he speaks to feel special.

Reinebold has been doing things a little differently his entire coaching career, starting with his first professional stint with the B.C. Lions in the Canadian Football League in 1991. Brought in as the team’s special teams and receivers coach, “Bolt” turned the special teams unit around from the dismal 1990 season and had four 1,000 yard receivers to boot.

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He printed up special T shirts and, along with the earring he used to wear (the first one among coaches back then), made an impact on the players and the team.

“I’ve still got the hole for it, I just don’t have the earring in it any more.”

He lobbied for and got a brand new and innovative set of weight equipment that even had office staff working out among the players. His boundless enthusiasm and untiring work ethic have endeared him to players and staff alike wherever he has traveled since then. There is no question he has always danced to the beat of a different drummer. As head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the late 90s, he had players warming up to Bob Marley, and he drove around on a Harley. Although he has mellowed some since those wild days, he makes no apologies.

“We all grow,” he said. “I was younger then . . . I never cared too much what people thought. I never did anything to affect an image, that’s just who I was.”

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Jeff Reinebold and Neil Reynolds

He continues to make a difference to this day. Whether racing up and down the Hamilton Tiger Cat sideline as special teams coordinator, screaming with delight at another amazing return or punishing block, or sitting in a Skysports studio in London, England, commenting on football and games, Jeff Reinebold oozes enthusiasm and energy.

“You know, I really feel blessed to be a part of this game. It’s true. This game has introduced me to places and people I never would have imagined when I started this journey.”

His impact is so far reaching now that young players and coaches in Dublin, Ireland for instance, message him regularly and he always replies. Or a veteran coach in Hamburg, Germany may drop a line to ask his thoughts about a player. Or perhaps a former player in Hawaii may ask about coaching contacts.

He calls NFL football coaching legends like Dick Vermeil and June Jones good friends. He can land almost anywhere that football is played and cross paths somehow with someone he knows or who knows him.

In the Canadian Football League he has coached with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (current team), Montreal Alouettes, Edmonton Eskimos, Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the B.C. Lions. He gave up a lucrative career with NFL Europe to take a huge pay cut and man the sidelines as a graduate assistant with the University of Hawaii and then moved on to SMU (Southern Methodist University). He was named one of the finest recruiters in college football.

Reinebold’s European adventure began in 1996 when he was a coach of the Rhein Fire of NFL Europe. After coaching stops in both the CFL, NFL Europe again and the NCAA, he returned to NFL Europe in 2004 as senior manager of international player development and it was those connections that led him to serve as an emergency replacement for one of the other American studio analysts who couldn’t make a broadcast.

“The guy they had hired could not make the very first broadcast so they asked me to substitute that one time. I have been doing it ever since.”

While in Europe, 11 of the defensive backs he coached found themselves on active NFL rosters. Three of his defensive linemen at Hawaii were drafted in the NFL. He builds a special bond with players that none of them ever forgets. Hamilton Tiger-Cat mercurial kick returner Brandon Banks:

“Coach Reinebold deserves the credit,” said Banks, who has forced teams to scheme against his return ability. “I mean, we couldn’t do it without him. He draws the scheme up and lets us know what to do. We just have to follow his instructions.”

The recurring habit noticed when speaking with Reinebold though is that for a man who seems comfortable in the limelight, he constantly diverts attention back to others, refusing to dwell on himself.

Jeff Reinebold - Inside the huddle poster

His off field activities now include, in addition to doing the TV color commentary on NFL games and the Super Bowl for Skysports, co hosting the biggest NFL podcast outside of North AmericaInside The Huddle.

He is part of a two man team with Neil Reynolds, also a former NFL Europe executive, on the show. It airs at least once a week from London, year round, so over the years he has had to scramble to make it work. He has even handled it from the beaches of Costa Rica once on a surf vacation. For the dedicated “water man” – surfing and paddling are passions – it was only natural.

But, he is most comfortable on the sideline. For Reinebold, the proper execution of a special teams plan or a defensive scheme is a beautiful thing, and one that still gives him goose bumps, even after all these years. Mostly, he says, it’s the bond he feels with the players.

“I’ve been overpaid my entire career,” the 57-year-old said. “Not in a monetary sense. From an emotional standpoint. To have the relationship that I have with these players and to see them succeed, that’s a tremendous, tremendous trip.”

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Those relationships are the primary reason why Reinebold continues to coach. Sky Sports has just signed a new five-year deal to continue broadcasting NFL games but Reinebold is hoping they’ll continue to work around his commitment to the Ticats.

“The thing that keeps me in football in the interaction with the players,” Reinebold said. “When you spend six months with guys and you watch them succeed and you watch them fail and you learn about them as men — you become very close. You don’t get that anywhere else.”

He’s never had a career plan. He relies on his instincts and ability — and, he admits, a little bit of luck — to carry him forward, on to the next adventure. He uses a surfing analogy to describe his life in football and otherwise.

“The wave doesn’t go all the way to the shore,” he said. “You just want to be on the board and ride it as long as you can.”

He loves the Canadian Football League, but he could see himself back in Europe coaching.

“You know, the game has developed so much there now. I could see myself somewhere in Italy say, helping players understand football better, building a team and a football family. I would like that.”

That, in a nutshell, is Jeff Reinebold.

Special thanks to Don Landry, CFL.ca

Roger Kelly
Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.
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