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Jacques Reeves regains passion for football after leaving the game to care for ailing mother

Posted Aug 29, 2012

Reeves set to start Thursday’s preseason finale in Green Bay following a two-year layoff from football

Jacques Reeves talks about balancing his two passions. When they came to a crossroads, so did his NFL career.

He’s an NFL cornerback who loves what he does. He’s also a son who loves his mother.

To the Chiefs cornerback, family comes first. So when Annie Reeves became ill, Jacques decided that football could wait. He walked away.

“I’m her only son,” Reeves said following a Chiefs practice earlier this week. “I felt like she needed me there more than I needed to be playing football. I had to take care of her. That came first at that moment.”

There’s a gaping hole in Reeves’ seven-year NFL career. Most notably, the 2010 and 2011 seasons went missing. He had been a 16-game starter as recently as 2008 and played in 12 games with the Texans in 2009 while battling a broken leg.

But Reeves made the decision to be with his mother two years ago, whose deteriorating health called for liver and kidney transplants.

Annie underwent transplant surgery last September and, as her health stabilized, her only son was able to focus on football again. Reeves signed a free agent deal with the Chiefs in February and began working his way back as an experienced veteran buried on Kansas City’s depth chart.

“I missed it like crazy,” Reeves said of his time away from football. “I kept working out and never got out of shape, hoping I’d get another opportunity.

“I didn’t come back to be a backup. I came back to try and help this team win in any way that I can.”

But Reeves’ football career would be put on hold once again in late July. Annie was 63 years old when she passed away. The Chiefs opened training camp in St. Joseph, Mo. the same day.

“She wanted me to come back and play,” Reeves said. “She didn’t want her health to hold me back.”

Reeves missed the first week of training camp following Annie’s passing. With his last game of NFL action coming in January of 2010, the odds of making a successful NFL comeback only grew longer.

In the NFL, however, the next guy always has to be ready to step up. Injuries to Brandon Flowers and Jalil Brown have Reeves in line to start Thursday night’s preseason finale in Green Bay and it’s possible he holds onto that role Week One in Atlanta if Flowers’ health doesn’t improve.

“Jacques has been around this league for a while, played for some great teams,” head coach Romeo Crennel said. “I don’t have any problem with him being out there, and I don’t think he’s going to falter one bit.”

Annie’s burial occurred on August 1st and Reeves reported to training camp two days later. After a three-day acclimation period required by the new Collective Bargaining Agreement ended, it was clear the Chiefs wanted to expedite the process of seeing what the veteran could do.

Reeves saw a steady increase in practice reps shortly after his training camp arrival and was used extensively in Kansas City’s second and third preseason games. Injuries provided him the initial opportunity, but Reeves’ play has kept him in the running to play a big role in Kansas City’s secondary.   

“I love being here and I love playing football,” Reeves said. “I love work. When you love something, it makes the hard work easier. You are working towards something and I missed it like crazy.”

Reeves’ last start came against New England in Houston’s 2009 regular season finale. He’s opened 35 career games for the Cowboys and Texans since entering the NFL with Dallas as a seventh-round pick out of Purdue in 2004.

That experience makes him one of the elders on Kansas City’s young roster. Starting cornerback Stanford Routt is the only player in Kansas City’s secondary with more experience than Reeves’ 88 career games played.

“He’s been making plays on the ball in coverage, in one-on-one cover particularly,” Crennel said.

Reeves’ ability to play man-to-man was on display against Terrell Owens last week vs. Seattle. He was the victim of one acrobatic T.O. catch, but also knocked away several passes in coverage as well.

“He’s shown up over the course of camp,” Crennel said. “Now, he’s not perfect, but neither are any of the guys we have right now. But he’s competitive and he can make some plays.”

Thursday night presents a big opportunity for Reeves, but he also has a wild card in his corner.

Annie Ruth Reeves.

“This is all for her,” Reeves said.

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