All-City in football as well as on the baseball and wrestling teams at Liberty High School in his hometown of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Mike Reichenbach was clearly an outstanding athlete. As a prophet, yeah, not so much.
"When you're a kid, you always go with the team that's winning, and at the time, the Steelers were winning, so I was a Steelers fan," Reichenbach says. "All my uncles and everybody that I knew was an Eagles fan, and just to get under their skin, I said, 'If I ever make it to the NFL, I'll never play for the Eagles.'"
Well, about that. Named as a first-team Little All-America linebacker by The Associated Press and Kodak/Coaches as a senior at Division II East Stroudsburg University, Reichenbach went undrafted in 1984, but not unnoticed.
"I wasn't invited to any Combines, but there were scouts that came in and timed me," Reichenbach says. "The day of the draft, they were projecting late rounds, but I just saw that it probably wasn't going to happen. As the draft was winding down, there were about five or six teams that contacted me, and the Eagles were one of them.
"It's interesting, because I got on the phone asking coaches questions, 'What kind of linebackers do you have? What kind of defense do you run?' They said, 'Aren't you just happy coming to camp?' And I said, 'No, I intend on making the team, so I want to know what my best option is.' The Eagles were the only one who offered me a signing bonus which bought me a car, so I said, 'You're my team.'"
The last rookie linebacker on the roster as camp was closing, Reichenbach's chances of making the team seemed good. However, an injury on the defensive line in the final preseason game rattled the Eagles' roster plans. Reichenbach was waived, but told to stay in shape because they'd like to bring him back.
"I went home and worked out three times a day," Reichenbach says. "I did that one week, two weeks, three weeks ... And then one day I was at the track running and I stopped in the middle and said to myself, 'This ain't happening. I've got to come to reality. What am I going to do now?'
"I drove home and when I pulled up in front of the house, my mom looked out the window and said, 'The Eagles just called. They want you back down in Philly. So, the door opened and that's when I said, 'You know what? I'm not going to let them cut me again.' They put me on all the special teams that first game against (Washington), and I think we kicked the ball six times and I had six tackles."
In 1986, the Eagles introduced Reichenbach and his teammates to their new head coach, Buddy Ryan, who was fresh off of helping Chicago win Super Bowl XX as its defensive coordinator.
Ryan sent several veteran players packing. Reichenbach wasn't one of them.
"When you get to the NFL, the first thing is you want to do is make the team. And then when you make the team, you want to win. And then you want to go to the Super Bowl," Reichenbach says. "You heard all the stories about Buddy, but the only thing you knew right away was that they won in Chicago. So, if they won in Chicago, maybe he can bring that here. And then he came to town and we found out that it's going to be an interesting time frame. Totally different."
With Philadelphia for six seasons from 1984-89, what are some of Reichenbach's fondest memories from his time with the Eagles?
"Just the fact that you never thought that you could get to that level, and running out onto that field for the first time, you're like, 'This is something that became true.' And my parents got to see me play at that level in the stadium. It was incredible for them to be able to be a part of that," he says.
"It's just what I learned from the game that I apply to life now. To overcome things. To break through the glass ceilings in your life. Most of the things, I apply to my faith now. I walk with Jesus Christ. There are things that stop you and you say, 'No, I can get through this.'"
Concluding his eight-year NFL career by playing the 1990 and '91 seasons for Miami, Reichenbach saw what sets Eagle fans apart from the others.
"The intensity and the knowledge. They're engaged. It's not just a game to them; it's a way of life. If the Eagles play well, their week goes better. If they lose, their week is miserable," Reichenbach says. "And you always knew who the players on the team were. The players made the team. It was the names – (Ron) Jaworski, (Wilbert) Montgomery, and all the way back to (Steve) Van Buren. They were like part of the family.
"Here's the thing. They might boo you, but if you played well, they appreciated that. They were always there. They were very loyal, no matter how bad it got. It was a great place to play."
Reichenbach and his wife, Lynne, make their home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. They have three adult children: Michael, Kelly, and Josh; and a grandchild: Madison.
The director of East Coast sales and an account executive for a pharmaceutical company, Reichenbach has worked in the sales field for over 25 years.
"We print the labels for prescription drugs and the things you buy off the shelf," Reichenbach says. "It's a great industry, especially during this time with people losing jobs. We've worked all the way through because we're supplying the pharmaceutical industry. So, it's been a blessing."
Reichenbach demonstrated a strong work ethic as a player and he still does today, both in and out of the office.
"With the church that I go to, Calvary Chapel, we do a lot of inner-city work with kids because I see what's happening with sports. It's become such a business that these kids get lost in it. They only see their value if they can put a ball in a hoop or score a touchdown. And they get left behind when that's all they have to get out of the city," Reichenbach says. "So, we're trying to open up their hearts to see what other gifts and abilities they have to find a way to live life and not get caught up in the streets.
"And for 21 years, I had the privilege to coach young men on what it was to be a Christian man using the game of football for the greater good. That ended in 2017. So, now I'm working with one of the pastors that has a church in North Philly. We're working on some programs and youth outreach to help kids who are getting lost in the craziness of what's going on."