Legendary actor Burt Reynolds passed away at the age of 82 on Thursday. Before his name became synonymous with Bandit, or Stroker Ace, Reynolds made a name for himself on the football field as a halfback for the Florida State University Seminoles.
CBS Sports reports that in 1955, his first season with the Seminoles, Reynolds ran for 134 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries and completed four catches for 76 yards. Though his future in football looked promising, he was sidelined by a knee injury in the first game of his sophomore season. A car accident later that same year resulted in yet another knee injury and the loss of his spleen. Sadly, Reynolds never played for the Seminoles again.
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Despite his abbreviated football career there, Reynold’s love for FSU never wavered—even beneath the bright lights of Hollywood. He reportedly hung FSU pennants on the sets of his movies and wasn’t shy about publicly praising his beloved Seminoles.
And even as the starring roles piled on—Smokey and the Bandit, The Cannonball Run, Deliverance and The Longest Yard, and later Boogie Nights—Reynolds had football (and FSU) on his mind.
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“When I had dreams, I dreamed about scoring touchdowns — or coaching,” he told the Tallahassee Democrat. “I never dreamed about Academy Awards or things like that.”
Through the years, Reynolds supported FSU’s football program financially, with donations that went towards uniforms and scholarship endowments. When FSU constructed a new football dorm in the early 1980’s, it was named after Reynolds.
“Every time I smell the cut grass and it gets around the fall, I’m like any jock who ever played football,” he once mused.
Rest in peace, Burt.