Former Viking pursuing fighter-pilot dreams

Defensive lineman Nick Reed spent the 2012 offseason trying to make the Vikings roster, but when his NFL dream died he fired up his previous plan – to become a fighter pilot.

Former Viking Nick Reed thought his career path was with the Vikings a year ago when he signed a two-year deal with the team. He didn't make the final roster, but his dream didn't die with his release –it just wasn't the dream that he originally thought he would be chasing.

In an interview with, Reed explained that his childhood dream of being a fighter pilot remains. After being released by the Vikings last year, Reed, 25, signed up with the Air Force Academy. While football was one of his primary career goals, Reed had a solid backup plan in place. The son of a military family, Reed enrolled at the Air Force Academy last month to start fighter pilot training boot camp.

"When I was a kid my dad was in the Navy," Reed told, "and he was flight surgeon – a doctor for the pilots. So he would come home and talk about that stuff with me, and I think that's how I kind of got into it and knew that was something I wanted to do. Most kids want to be an astronaut or a pilot. I guess I never really got out of that stage."

Reed was accepted to the Air Force Academy in 2011, but was signed by the Chicago Bears. He played seven games for Chicago before being released and signed by Tampa Bay. After being signed by the Vikings in March 2012, he hoped his NFL career would finally get some traction. However, he was one of the Vikings' final cuts last September and didn't catch on with another team, prompting a shift in his career plans to becoming one of the elite Air Force recruits.

Less than two weeks after being cut by the Vikings, Reed was accepted again to be a recruit for the Air Force. However, he didn't start the nine-week boot camp until last month. With successful completion of the Air Force boot camp, Reed will be in line to become a fighter pilot and potentially fly sorties for the United States in world hot spots.

For a lot of players, having their NFL dream die is the end of a chapter in their lives in which they have to adjust to life after football and fall back on a Plan B career path. While Reed didn't realize his goal of becoming an NFL player, his Dream 1B is now underway and he hopes that he will live out one of his life goals from childhood. In the end, his decision to protect the United States as a member of the U.S. military may end up being the most rewarding decision of his life.

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

Viking Update Top Stories