Ed Reed, the 11-year veteran out of the University of Miami, was drafted 24th overall to the Baltimore Ravens in the 2002 NFL Draft.
What began soon after was the start of an outstanding, almost certain Hall of Fame career that first started with a trip to the Pro Bowl in his 2nd season in 2003, finishing the year with seven interceptions. That year he was named First Team All-Conference by Pro Football Weekly.
The next season may still be his finest – and he’s had some very good campaigns since – one in which he was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year with a league high nine interceptions, one of which went 106 yards for a touchdown. He did it all that year – two sacks, a fumble recovery for a touchdown, all the while playing and starting in 16 games in 2004.
His season in ’04 began the start of five times being named a First Team All-Pro. Reed is a nine-time Pro Bowler. His bid in 2006 would start a run of seven straight seasons with Pro Bowl appearances for Baltimore, his final one with the Ravens coming last season during the team’s championship title run.
Reed changed offensive coordinators game plans because he – along with his motivator and mentor – Ray Lewis, were students of the game. Reed had such an acuity for how to play the safety position – one he redefined in the NFL – that at times teams just stopped throwing to his side of the field for fear they’d have it picked off and ran back.
And speaking of picking it off and running it back, Reed’s 61 interceptions rank 10th all-time in NFL history and his 1541 interception return yards rank first all-time in NFL history.
Think about that for a moment. First all-time in NFL history. How did he do that? Well, having two of the longest interception returns for touchdowns in NFL history help as well (106 yards in 2004, 107 yards in 2008).
Since that season, he had two more great years in Baltimore, recording nine interceptions in 2008 with two touchdown returns and eight more in 2010, during a season where he only played in 10 games.
When the magical season ended for the Baltimore Ravens in 2012, fans knew throughout that this could be the last time Ed Reed would be in a Ravens uniform. They held on to memories, but hoped that Reed would still be able to make more with the only team he’s ever known.
It’s hard in the NFL – or any sport for that matter – to have players stay in one city their entire career. The Ravens have been blessed with two, and almost a third.
Reed is a Houston Texan now, officially signing a three-year, $15 million dollar deal and while he may just be a visitor on another team now, he’ll always be a Raven – one that finally got a well-deserved Super Bowl ring and helped to bring another Lombardi trophy back to Baltimore.
We’ll miss the chants of “REEEEEEEEED” echoing throughout the stadium during introductions and the game. We’ll miss what he meant for the city of Baltimore and what he meant to the team on the field as a Raven. What’s appropriate is that the final memory we have of Reed will be in a Ravens uniform, holding the Lombardi trophy.
The Ravens move on and so does Ed Reed. Reed was quoting saying this morning, “Football is a small chapter of our lives. 11 years was a great book, and the way it ended, you can’t write a better script.”
No matter what team you’re on, that #20 jersey will hang proudly in my closet, remembering the good ol’ days in the purple and black.
Thanks Ed Reed and may Texans fans enjoy the type of play you’ve allowed us to enjoy for 11 seasons. Just don’t think we’ll be rooting for you when you come out of that tunnel into M&T Bank Stadium this coming season.
It truly is the end of an era in Ravens football. What’s quite fitting is that Ed Reed landed in the great state of Texas with the Houston Texans – I can hear the Roy Rogers song now…
“Happy trails to you.. ’til we meet again.”
Matt Lund is a contributor for BaltimoreSportsReport.com and co-host of the BSR Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @MattCLund.