There have been many great players to come and go from the Baltimore Ravens over their 20+ years as a franchise, but few have left as indelible a mark as free safety Ed Reed. Picked in the first round from the University of Miami in 2002, Reed went on to have arguably the greatest career of any safety in history, notching over 600 tackles, six sacks, 11 forced fumbles, and (his favorite) 64 interceptions.
He’s known as much for the swagger he carried himself with as he was for the flashy plays he made on the back end of Baltimore’s defense, and that especially showed through when he allowed glimpses at his eccentric off-field personality.
That was on display when he recently sat down with The Ringer’s Kevin Clark, who asked him a variety of questions ranging from thoughts on the league’s rule changes, all the way to Ravens rookie Lamar Jackson. Below are some highlights from the interview, which is linked below:
On how different the game is now than when he played:
“You don’t see guys making plays as much. The middle of the field can be wide open because that’s how these coaches are calling plays. [Laughs.] That can be a schematic thing. It’s a helluva lot that goes into it, but those rules definitely affect the game, as you’ve seen, because guys gotta be smarter and they’re a little tentative now, and I think that’s part of slowing the defense down and letting offenses make plays. But guys gotta play fast. Guys play fast, they train fast—and, like I said, this is an instinctive game, so it’s gonna be hard to combat those rules so long as it’s not a guy trying to do some targeting or some vicious act. We’ve gotta be able to police this the right way.”
On whether he’d play differently the game differently if he were in his prime now:
“Not really. I always kind of kept my eyes on the rules for the most part. I know my training wouldn’t have been different because I know what I wanted from myself and my family. And I know what I wanted for my team. So, nah, I don’t see me playing the game differently, though I always try to play with brotherhood in mind. You know what I mean by that? Taking care of the guy on the other side of the field just as much as I’m taking care of myself and my teammates. Though I played against guys like Hines Ward, I never took it upon myself to just go after him or hurt him. … I think just as football players, that brotherhood in the NFL, brotherhood in college football, brotherhood of high school football, recreational football for these kids—and how we train them, and how we talk to them, and how we want them to play the game, how we coach them—makes a huge difference.”
His thoughts on the usage of Lamar Jackson, and whether he would run the gadget plays involving the young QB:
“If I’m a coach, I’m doing that, but, at the same time, Joe is my quarterback. Not just because I won a Super Bowl with Joe and that’s my quarterback, but Joe is the quarterback of the Ravens right now and he’s healthy. [Lamar has to] develop little things like sliding. ... Yeah, you can make those plays, but you’re a quarterback, and you’re more important on the field than off the field. So I know for a fact Joe’s the quarterback, and I would think RG3 is behind him. Because Lamar is young. But I’m not the coach over there. I’m just saying what I think and what I would do.”
When asked if he has plans to return to coaching:
“I hope to consult. I’d like to get coaches I admire and see how they run things. ... Coaches like Bill Belichick. Guys like that who I would love to just be around and hear how they talk football. The Ravens, if ever, because I know how that organization works, and I know what that organization has done for me. Maybe in college football, but I would have to be in consulting right now. I’ve got my kids and I have to be around them more now than ever.”
His thoughts on how the game (and league) can be improved
“I would make it more for the players. I would figure out how can I help the players. … Because ultimately they’re the ones who make it go. It’s not us who are on the sidelines now. It’s not us, the people who are upstairs. It’s the guys in between the lines who truly make it go. So how can I help guys and educate guys on the game to make it better without taking away from their natural abilities and instincts. So that would educate them on what can happen if you play this game. If you play in this game, you need to know what comes with it. You need to know things physically, mentally, can happen to you if you don’t take care of your body. This is America, man. So there’s a lot that entails. We’ve got a long way to go, but my honest answer would be to work together. That’s what I would say about that.”
Check out the full interview below: