Former Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed has retired from the NFL. Last week it was announced that Reed that would sign a one-day contract with the Ravens to officially announce his retirement. Reed will exit the game as one of the best safeties in the history of the NFL. Reed was drafted by the Ravens in the first round in the 2002 NFL Draft (#24 overall) from the University of Miami. Former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis also played at “The U,” creating a perfect fit for Reed. Reed played 11 seasons with the Ravens, and spent time with the Houston Texans and New York Jets (let’s just forget that even happened). One could argue that there are other safeties that were better than Reed (hello Troy Polamalu) but it is hard to argue that there was a better ball hawk than Reed to play in the NFL. He was a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks to prepare for because he was never covering the same assignment throughout the entire game; Reed would instead freely roam the field and always had a knack for knowing exactly where the quarterback was going to place the ball. Even Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has expressed that the Ravens coaching staff basically let Reed do what he wanted and the results show that Reed knew that he was doing without help from the coaching staff.
Over his twelve seasons in the NFL, Reed finished with 532 tackles, 6 sacks, 11 forced fumbles, 64 interceptions and 7 touchdowns. He was a 9 time Pro Bowler and the 2004 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. In my opinion, Ed Reed is the third best player to play for the Baltimore Ravens, behind linebacker Ray Lewis and offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden. There are many memories of Ed Reed that Ravens fans will cherish forever, but here are the best of the best.
5. His 12 interceptions against the Browns
We all know that Ed Reed was one of the hardest players in NFL history to prepare for. We also know that the Browns have had some significant quarterback problems over the last decade. But good lord did the Browns have their problems with Ed Reed. 19% of Reed’s career interceptions were against Cleveland, including a 106 yard interception return for a touchdown in 2004, breaking an NFL record. Needless to say, I am sure that whoever is coaching the Cleveland Browns or playing quarterback for them is glad that Ed Reed no longer roams the secondary.
4. 2 Interceptions in the Ravens 2009 Wild Card victory over the Miami Dolphins
Along with the Browns, the Dolphins were another team that Ed Reed always seemed to have success against. Back in 2009 the Ravens clinched a Wild Card Spot in the playoffs and their first matchup was against the Dolphins. The Ravens dominated the Dolphins 27-9, but Reed highlighted the game with two interceptions, one returned 64 yards for a touchdown. Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington threw 4 interceptions that game, and the Ravens went all the way to the AFC Championship game that season.
3. Scaring Ravens fans with lateraling the ball to his teammates
Like anyone else in the NFL, Ed Reed had his share of injuries, most notably neck, shoulder and hip injuries. Luckily, he never endured a torn ACL or any knee injuries, but later in his career Reed started to take less hits and not hit as hard when making tackles. Part of this led to Reed lateraling the ball to his teammates when making interceptions to save himself from taking a hit. Even though this was often very effective, there were a few instances where the lateral did not go well and ended up being a fumble. As a fan, the last thing you want to see is an interception only to be turned right back over to the other team because of a failed lateral. Reed scared Ravens fans when he lateraled, but most of the time it was successful and only did him good by avoiding taking a hit.
2. 108 yard Pick-6 return vs the Philadelphia Eagles
In 2008 Ed Reed broke his own interception-return record when he intercepted Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb and returned the interception 108 yards for a touchdown in a Ravens 29-7 victory. Many would consider this to be the greatest interception of Reed’s career, and rightfully so.
1. Interception in the Super Bowl
The Ravens made the playoffs in 2003 and 2006, as well as five straight seasons from 2008-2012 but never reached the Superbowl until 2012, Reed’s (and Ray Lewis’s) final season with the Ravens. As always, Ed Reed made a big play in a big game when he intercepted 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick during Superbowl 47. Not only was it appropriate that Ed Reed intercept a pass in the Superbowl, but it was also appropriate that the Superbowl Reed played in was New Orleans, Louisiana, Reed’s home state. Even though Reed left the Ravens in free agency following the Superbowl, the final memory Ravens fans have of Reed is him hoisting the Lombardi trophy for the first time after the Ravens 34-31 Superbowl victory.
Ed Reed will go down as the third best Ravens player of all time, but he was definitely the most entertaining to watch. Fans, players, coaches and especially quarterbacks never knew where he was going to be on the field, and a big play always seemed to be possible no matter the play call or situation. Not only were his efforts on the field second-to-none, but Reed was also very active in the community, serving in Baltimore and parts of Louisiana. Because he played on the same team as Ray Lewis, his leadership skills and insight were often over-sighted but there is no doubt that Reed was one of the most influential players on the Ravens during his time with the team. He kept everyone in check and made sure everyone in the secondary was where they needed to be. He is a future Hall of Famer and rightfully so, as his 64 interceptions ranks #6 in the NFL record books.
Like he was on the field, Ed Reed was also hard to figure out off the field. Sometimes Reed was laughing throughout entire practices and took time to answer all questions the media had, and other times Reed was quiet during practice and would walk to the locker room with a hoodie over his head, keeping to himself. No matter what mood Reed was in on certain days, he did his job the right way and fans, players and coaches can certainly attest to that. He was a pleasure to watch play the game of football, and his presence in the Ravens secondary can never be replaced.
Congratulations on a great career number 20. Enjoy retirement. We’ll see you in Canton someday.