Salesianum, UD star Troy Reeder returns to play Eagles, but family, friends can't attend
Troy Reeder will look into the stands Sunday, playing his first NFL game at Lincoln Financial Field, and see nobody.
Not his parents, his brother, fiancée, aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends and other family members who under normal circumstances would have been ecstatic to drive up from Delaware to see the former Salesianum and University of Delaware star play inside linebacker for the Los Angeles Rams.
And forget about Reeder meeting his family for dinner the night before the game or seeing them outside the locker room afterward.
This is life in the NFL during the coronavirus pandemic. So Reeder's homecoming – something he looked forward to ever since he signed with the Rams as an undrafted free agent in the spring of 2019 – won't be much of a homecoming at all.
"It is a shame," Reeder said in a phone interview. "I’ve really looked forward to this game for a long time. But I’m going to be confined to the hotel. I won’t be able to see any family while we’re staying in Philly.
"Obviously, no fans will be at the game, so I won’t be able to see anyone afterward. I’ll be about a half-hour from home, but I’m just going to hop on the plane and come right back (to Los Angeles). It's all business."
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Reeder isn't complaining. After all, he's playing in the NFL, he's healthy, and he's a key component on a team with Super Bowl aspirations.
In addition, he and the Rams are coming off a 20-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday night, the Eagles' heated rival in the NFC East.
"I was getting a lot of love from the Eagles fans back home for that," Reeder said with a laugh. "We’ll see if the same thing happens when we’re in Philly."
Reeder could have a role in whether that happens.
He's a backup linebacker and plays on all four special teams units for the Rams this season on a defense that features lineman Aaron Donald and cornerback Jalen Ramsey, not to mention a high-powered offense led by quarterback Jared Goff.
Reeder began last season as a reserve, too, before becoming a starter four games in when Micah Kiser suffered a season-ending injury.
Reeder started eight games in 2019, finishing with 53 tackles and 2 forced fumbles. The Rams went 9-7, just missing the playoffs. They expect to be playoff contenders this season.
"Last year, I started off playing a lot of scout team and tried to prepare as if I was going to be in the game," Reeder said. "I think just being that scout team middle linebacker and getting reps against the Rams offense that is always one of the best in the NFL expedited my growth.
"When I was thrown into the action in a game situation, I felt really prepared and that has carried over to this year."
Rams coach Sean McVay said Reeder's impact on the team goes much deeper than what he does on the field.
"You win with guys like Troy Reeder," McVay said on a conference call with reporters who cover the Eagles. "He has only gotten better. He’s conscientious. He’s got great attention to detail. He’s a glue guy in the locker room because he does a great job of establishing good relationships with so many different guys."
That has been the case wherever Reeder has played, going back to Salesianum in high school, then to Penn State, then to UD. Reeder started for the Nittany Lions as a redshirt freshman in 2015 before transferring to Delaware after that season so he could be on the same team as his brother, Colby, who's a senior this season.
Their father, Dan, also played for UD in the 1980s as a running back. Dan Reeder spent two seasons in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1986-87, gaining 28 yards on eight carries.
Troy Reeder has played a game at the Linc before, in front of close to 70,000 fans, as a freshman at Penn State against Temple in 2015.
Reeder's parents and fiance have also seen him play in person in the NFL. They flew out to Los Angeles last season for two games, and went to Rams road games in 2019 at Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Carolina.
But that was just a small contingent of friends and family members.
"It was a lot different than being at the University of Delaware, and the whole family tailgating in the North End Zone after the games, aunts and uncles, family and friends," Reeder said.
It was supposed to be that way on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. In fact, Reeder said he realized when he signed with the Rams in 2019 as an undrafted free agent, that he'd be playing a road game against the Eagles in the near future.
Then, after last season ended, Reeder realized that the game at the Linc would come this season. He stayed in Delaware during the offseason, working out and training with his brother.
But he realized after the pandemic hit that fans might not be allowed for the game against the Eagles.
"It’s going to be weird for sure," Reeder said. "I definitely think the Eagles benefit from having one of the best home-field advantages in the NFL. Obviously, that is diminished without their 70,000 fans.
"To me, I think there’s something nostalgic about passing that stadium for years so many times. It was such a cool thing to play there (at Penn State). It’ll be a really cool experience."
It just won't be like Reeder always imagined it.
Contact Martin Frank at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.