Saints' Chris Reis had "Recovery of a Lifetime"

NEW ORLEANS — When New Orleans Saints safety Chris Reis emerged from a mass of humanity with a loose football in Super Bowl XLIV, it changed his life forever.

For Chris and Michael Reis, it turned out to be the “Recovery of a Lifetime,’’ a collaboration with author Mike Yorkey that depicts the inspirational journey of a Super Bowl hero son and his father’s battle against multiple addictions.

Chris Reis played a starring role in “Ambush,’’ the now famous recovered onside kick that helped spur the Saints to a 31-17 comeback victory against the Indianapolis Colts at Sun Life Stadium on Feb. 7, 2010.

On that moon-kissed night at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., it took 63 seconds for officials and players to peel off players from the dogpile and determine that Reis had out-wrestled a handful of Colts for the prized possession.

Reis said 18 teammates came off the Saints sideline to help uncover the pile.

That ball from “Ambush’’ is on display at the National World War II Museum as a part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's "Gridiron Glory" exhibit, on loan from Tristan manthey, who owns the football, symbolizing the earliest recovery of a onside kick in Super Bowl history.

To the Reises, it symbolizes much, much more.

“The way that Chris had lived his life, and what that play represented, inspired me to make a major change in my life to become sober,’’ said Mike Reis, a 54-year-old author, speaker and master-certified addiction recovery coach.

“I don’t think we would be where we are in our father-son relationship today without that play,” said Chris Reis, a 29-year-old husband, father, inspirational speaker and former rookie free agent who played four seasons with the Saints prior to his release before the 2011 season.

“I don’t think we would’ve put two and two together. But it’s not the actual recovery that inspired my dad, it’s more the symbolism of the recovery that helped our lives come together.”

Coinciding with Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday, Reis is one of five former NFL players who is featured in an ESPN series entitled “Lost Heroes of the Super Bowl.’’

Chances are some relatively obscure player from the Baltimore Ravens or San Francisco 49ers will emerge as an unlikely hero, just like Reis did in Super Bowl XLIV.

And while “Ambush’’ will always define his NFL career, Reis said it does not define who he is.

“Don’t get me wrong, God has blessed me beyond belief, and I’m humbled to be part of a Super Bowl championship team and to be a part of a play like that,’’ Reis said. “And while I accomplished my goal, it left me feeling empty like ‘what do I do now, what do I do next?’

“I felt there was something greater that I’m supposed to do, and I didn’t know what it was.

“Little did I know that it was this relationship with my dad that we now have. It was this book and where this book has taken us as father and son.’’

Editor's Note: This story was changed on Feb. 5, 2013 to correct the location of the football's display.