When it comes to characters in NFL history, few have a story quite like Jack “Hacksaw” Reynolds. The former Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers linebacker enjoyed a 15-year career at the highest ranks in football. But reports of his exploits off the field have made him something of a folk hero among NFL fans.
Although he hasn’t played in nearly 40 years, one story from his college years explains his interesting nickname and the reputation he still holds today.
Jack Reynolds takes the field
Jack Reynolds entered the NFL as a member of the Los Angeles Rams in the first round of that year’s NFL draft, Pro Football Reference reports. Though linebackers don’t typically get as many accolades as quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and other offensive positions, Reynolds had the makings of a star despite playing on the wrong side of the field.
He wasted no time showing his worth in the NFL. And for the next 11 years, he went from a defensive bit player on the Rams to a Pro Bowl performer whose presence and ferocity changed the team for the better. However, despite a prosperous career in LA, his best years may have been the last four of his career. That’s when Reynolds was a star defender in a San Francisco 49ers dynasty.
Jack Reynolds hoists the trophy
While Jack Reynolds prospered with the Rams, he never got to hoist the Super Bowl trophy. Though the Rams constantly competed in the playoffs, they never made it to the ultimate goal. The closest they got was in 1979 when they lost in the Super Bowl to the Pittsburgh Steelers. But after switching teams late in his career, Reynolds was lucky enough to join the 49ers when a young Joe Montana was coming into his own. The result was two Super Bowls in just four years with the team.
Reynolds wasn’t a Hall of Famer when all was said and done. But the two-time Pro Bowler became the face of the 49ers defense at an age when most NFL players are already retired. Some could chalk this up to his status as a veteran. However, the story of how he got his nickname helps people understand just how different a player he was.
Reynolds earns his nickname
During the 1969 college season, Reynolds was a senior at Tennessee. He wanted to make the most of his final season in the college ranks, the Los Angeles Times reported. However, after the team lost to Archie Manning’s Ole Miss squad 38-0, Reynolds needed to take his pent-up rage out on something. According to a 1985 interview with the LA Times, Reynolds looked at the 1953 Chevrolet that he and his friends saw dying at the school. It posed the perfect opportunity to let off some steam.
He explained what happened next in great detail:
“I went to Kmart and bought the cheapest hacksaw they had, along with 13 replacement blades. I cut through the entire frame and driveshaft, all the way through the car … It took me eight total hours. I broke all 13 blades. When I finished, I got one guy from the dorm, Ray Nettles, to witness it. The next day we took the rest of our friends from the dorm up the hill to see it, and when we got there, both halves of the car were gone, with just the 13 broken blades lying on the ground. To this day, I don’t know what happened to that car.Jack Reynolds via LA Times
Thirty-seven years after his final NFL season, this college story is still an urban legend passed down through generations, the NFL reports. Jack Reynolds’ impact on the field was undeniable. And to this day, he’s often cited as one of the most memorable characters ever to play the game. That same drive that prompted him to saw a car in half gave him 15 years of NFL glory. And though his play on the field may be his legacy, backstories like this explain how that persona came to be.