Ravens safety Ed Reed has put together a fine career in Baltimore, and he hopes he will be rewarded for it this year with a Super Bowl title, as well as maybe a new deal in the new future as he begins to think about his life after football.
Reed, who would be playing in his 10th season in Baltimore, would love for nothing else but to be healthy and ready to face his longtime defensive coordinator, current NY coach Rex Ryan, in Week 1 when the Ravens travel to face the Jets.
“Who wants to miss their first game against their old coach? I love Rex,” Reed told Drew Forrester Friday on “The Morning Reaction“. “I would love playing with him, but if I’m playing against him, I wouldnt miss it.”
And he knows that Ryan wants to see him out there as well just as much as he wants to go up against him.
“I know he wouldn’t want me to miss it either. He would much rather me be out there. Rex is not an excuse kind of person.”
After battling neck, hip and shoulder injuries in 2009, Reed finished his season with his sixth Pro-Bowl selection despite only recording 50 tackles and 3 INTs, who for Reed could be seen as down years.
It has been a grind for Reed the last three years, who has fought through numerous injuries over the last several seasons, the biggest being the nerve impingement that has affected his ability to tackle.
And having to go through hip surgery in the off-season has only piled on the injuries for Reed, and brought up the “R”-word: retirement.
But Reed wants to assure Baltimore’s faithful that he is going to be alright and he will play this year; the only question is when and how long the healing process is going to take.
“I’m going to be alright. I just don’t know when. But I’m always shooting to play in any game that they schedule.”
Reed just wants to make sure that he doesn’t rush any sort of comeback and chance that being the last time he plays the game of football.
“This is a slow process. I don’t want to come back and have another injury, and then be out for the whole season, maybe even a career. I’m going to take my time with this one, and hope everyone can bear with me on this one, and we’ll see what happens.”
Reed also understands why fans are calling for him for come back so soon, given the brutal schedule that the NFL gave the Ravens this year, combined with big acquisitions in the off-season that make Baltimore appear like a contender this year.
“It’s a grind out of the gate. We’ve got like eight AFC games in a row. That sounds like November-December right there. I want to be back as soon as I can, but I’m not going to rush it.”
Reed said he even is sharing in those high expectations with the fans. He has every year he has suited up for the Ravens.
“We always have high expectations in Baltimore. That’s every summer, especially going into the season.”
Reed, while he said that some of the moves, like the trade for wide receiver Anquan Boldin from the Cardinals, came maybe a year or two too late, he did say that once training camp comes and goes, the unity of this team should be enough to put them in good position to be successful.
“It takes a complete team…coaches, players unified really understanding that we can do it together. There’s not a separation there. There can’t be a separation.”
“It should be interesting to see how everyone fits in. It always is. It’s just a matter of getting that cohesiveness in training camp, you know guys just buying into the program,” said Reed.
He continued, saying that there are a ton of guys on this team ready to go that extra mile to win the Super Bowl this year, with Reed being one of them, realizing that they don’t have a lot of time left to give it a shot.
“I’ve been trying to win the Super Bowl. I know a whole bunch of guys on the team who have been trying to win the Super Bowl. We just have some key things that we need to tweak a little bit.”
Reed is only 31, but he has taken a ton of hits over the years and has run a ton of juice out of his legs in his career. He led the league in picks in 2004 and 2008, and in ’04 he led the league in interception yardage returns.
He has 46 career interceptions, has 9 career returns for TDs( including punts and fumbles), and he has the longest interception return in NFL history (108 yards) to his credit.
All that, and his other accomplishments as a Raven, make him feel like he needs a little more respect from the fans, the organization, and the league, because he feels like he has earned it.
And with his future in doubt, Reed said recently he has turned a corner and has started to begin to think about his life after-or close to the end of-football.
“It’s also a business,” Reed said. ” Things haven’t been taken care of as much as I think they should.”
“But I’m at a different point in my career right now. It might seem like a player might be selfish and things like that, but if you look at the things that are going across the league right now…it makes you re-evualuate things especially after having the surgery.”
What Reed meant by “things going across the league” is of course the talks between the NFL’s owners and the player’s association inability to renew the collective bargaining agreement, meaning there could be no football in 2011.
Reed said he is happy to see someone fighting for his and other player’s rights.
“Now, the NFLPA is fighting for us. They have to fight for us, cause if you look at the older guys that played this game and started this game before us, they haven’t been taken care of in the future.”
“And that’s something guys think about now, especially like me with this hip surgery. I’m going to have to tend this after football. Financially, those are the things that you think about.”
Reed said that was a motivating factor in him wanting a new deal from the Ravens soon if he is to continue putting his body on the line in an effort to get Baltimore another Super Bowl title.
“Okay, maybe I need to get a new contract, which I should, but that’s a whole another argument…” Reed said in passing to Forrester.
While there are some other issues the players, who are looking for more benefits for retired players and guaranteed contracts, and the owners need to fix, Reed does feel like both sides love the game of football too much to let it come to a halt.
“I’m not worried at all. I don’t think the owners would go and have a lockout. It seems like it’s going to happen…but I don’t believe anyone in their right mind wants to be out of football, especially the way the economy is right now. You’re going to lose much more at the end of the day.”
But even if the owners cave in, Reed still wants the NFLPA to continue fighting for the rights of the players so that issue doesn’t just pop up again in a few years and we’re right back where we started.
“We love to play football, and the owners and coaches know that. Guys love the game, and that’s something you should not take advantage of. And it’s been taken advantage of for many many years.”
But while those thoughts may cloud Reed’s mind, he did want to make it known to the Raven faithful that his sole focus for now is to get healthy to play in 2010 and a new deal, the players association, and any talk of retirement are beyond the horizon for now.
“Know that I’m working down here rehabbing trying to get myself situated, but it’s a slow process. I talked to my coach about it, and he’s good. We’re shooting for the first game, but we don’t know.”
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