Well, it’s now official so I guess that makes it reality and not some odd rambling that came out of a friend’s mouth at a post-game tailgate party.
Ed Reed is now a Houston Texan.
It shouldn’t really be a huge surprise. I actually started preparing for this moment in August when the Ravens broke camp and the buzz was already swirling about how this would probably be Reed’s last in Baltimore. You know the reasons -he’s getting up in age, salary cap issues, he’s going to want too much money and blah, blah, blah.
Intellectually it made perfect sense. Reed was getting older and there really aren’t many players who perform better with age. (Unless your name is Barry Bonds) Baltimore has been a team in the thick of the playoff race for five consecutive seasons and they usually use as much of the cap as they are allowed. You have to pay up and balance the books at some point. Reed was a luxury that the team just wouldn’t be able to afford. Ravens fans have been spoiled by the old-school stories of Ogden and Lewis, players who won championships and only played in Charm City. It just doesn’t happen often these days.
Fandom however often has little to do with such level headed analysis. I’ll admit I got a little feeling a nausea deep in the pit of my stomach when saying the announcement out loud during conversation. My head hurt, ever so slightly. It just didn’t seem right. Ed Reed is a Raven, always will be and always should be. Watching Reed running about in Red, White and Blue in 2013 will be like watching Patrick Ewing doing a post move in Sonic green. It looks … unnatural.
I’m sure I wasn’t the only Ravens fan who felt this way over the past few days and reasons why are fairly simple. Ed Reed is firmly entrenched as a Baltimore sports legend and one of the true greats to wear a Ravens jersey. For a city that has a rich sports tradition our football team is still in it’s infancy compared to many NFL franchises. This year we will see our first player, our first draft choice in our first season of existence, Jonathan Ogden go into Canton to represent us. Reed will undoubtedly sometime in the future go in as the third such representative. A sports icon has now left us for another.
Needless to say I don’t really blame him. Football is such a violent unforgiving sport. If I were a player I’d want to get every penny I could before I closed the book on my career.
I also don’t blame the Ravens front office. They did what was best for the team in attempting to field a consistent winner by letting him walk.
Over the next few days you’ll hear people discuss what Reed’s legacy was not only to the city but to the franchise. It’s hard for me to quantify my thoughts about his eleven years here with only a few statements but I’ll try.
He was incredibly entertaining, gifted, unique, sometimes frustrating individual that was truly one of a kind. On the field I’ll remember his amazing grace and skill in picking off passes and being given his own adjective by the media -”ballhawk”. His time here is dotted with memorable plays, mostly interceptions, many times resulting with he or a teammate in the endzone. Who can forget his total domination of the Redskins as he single handedly led Baltimore to victory while the offense sputtered along? What other player would be able to intercept Peyton Manning twice in the same game in almost consecutive plays?
He was always described by those who played with his as a consummate teammate and someone you could always depend on. His interviews could be fascinating to dissect depending on the day as trying to figure out just what Ed was thinking would have been a futile exercise. He was just being himself.
Of all the memories, I will choose to the keep the most recent one fresh in my mind about him. The Ravens had just defeated the 49ers for their second franchise Super Bowl. Reed was running around in the confetti like a schoolboy, singing, dancing, crying, laughing and celebrating a great accomplishment. He got his two tickets to paradise and he wanted everyone to know.
So I wish you well Mr. Reed you are special, in more ways than one and I’m glad that you spent the bulk of your career here in my town playing for my team. You were a likable and interesting character that won’t soon be replaced.
See you in Canton #20.