On Thursday afternoon — when former Houston Texans safety Justin Reid took his first opportunity to speak with local media representatives after being signed by the Kansas City Chiefs late on Monday night — the team’s newest player didn’t hold back.
“Today is a great day,” he told reporters. “I am so excited to be here in Kansas City. I can’t tell you all the emotions I’ve had going through my head whenever the pen hit the paper — to be part of the organization and everything that we have going on in this city. It’s really exciting for me — and it’s really exciting for my family.”
On the backside of his first trip into NFL free agency, Reid said that there was a lot of uncertainty built into the process.
“You really have no idea,” he said. “You start to hear little whispers — like maybe this team might be interested, maybe this [other] team might be interested — but nobody really knows for sure until the tampering window opens and teams actually start putting offers on the table. So before you actually have some official information, you’re just anxious; you don’t know what’s going to happen next. It’s a little like how the draft is — except this time, you have a little bit more decision-making power in it.”
Reid said that while the three-year, $31.5 million contract that general manager Brett Veach offered did play a part in his decision, he used his decision-making power: making a conscious choice to play for Kansas City defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
“I had a few options,” he explained. “But really, when it came down to it — the financial bit of it does play a role — [but] when you take all that away, you start to look at the fit... and the culture... the opportunity that’s put in front of you? I want to play for a championship-caliber team. I want to play in a system that I [think] will fit me — to be able to highlight my strengths. And when you look at the defense that Spags runs — and you look at the Chiefs being in the AFC Championship three years in a row — you’re going to make that four.”
It’s actually already been four consecutive AFC Championships — but someone who has spent his recent years playing for another team probably doesn’t keep that number as clearly in his mind as Kansas City fans do.
“It really felt right,” added Reid. “I slept on it one day [and] came back to it. In the back of my mind — the bottom of my heart — Kansas City was really the best situation and fit for me.”
Reid said that the team (and city) came highly recommended to him by some of his friends who have played here — including safety Eric Murray and offensive lineman Martinas Rankin.
“All of them tell me how great of an experience that they had here,” noted Reid. “They said this is the city that they would raise their kids in. They said that first of all, the food and barbecue is amazing; you won’t run short of places to go eat. They said that when you drive up on game day, miles away, you’ll start to smell the barbecue. And they talked about how electric the fan base is once you actually get on the field.”
But Reid — who has played against the Chiefs in Arrowhead Stadium three times while with the Texans — already knew the last part from personal experience.
“It was nuts,” he said of playing against the Chiefs. “It was a completely electric atmosphere. You could literally feel the hairs on your arms stand up every time you stepped out there. A lot of times, it didn’t end the way I wanted [it] to — playing for Houston — but it was an electric atmosphere.”
Reid said that his new home stadium is one of just three NFL venues (the others being the home fields of the Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints) with such an atmosphere — and he’s excited to be a part of it while wearing the home team’s colors.
“I’m so excited to feed into the culture here — to be part of the fan base [to] help get those guys going and have them give us a little energy, too. Because it really makes a tangible difference when the crowd is into the game and they get loud. It actually energizes and bosts us as players on the field. It makes a tremendous difference. I can’t wait to strap up and step out in front of them to play for them.”