Ed Reed Translated

Ravens safety Ed Reed stirred up a kerfuffle last week when he told a radio interviewer he wasn’t sure he was 100 percent committed to playing in 2012.

That was immediately interpreted as a hint that he might retire, but Reed quickly quashed that possibility in other interviews, saying he wanted to play several more years.

What’s the bottom line?

There’s no doubt Reed will play this year. Regardless of what he says from time to time, he is due to make $7.2 million in 2012 in the last year of the six-year, $44 million deal he signed in 2006. He not only wants that cash, but also wants a new contract that honors his status as one of the franchise’s all-time greats. He won’t get that by walking off into the sunset.

With that in mind, some wonder why he continually sounds hesitant about his future, having mentioned the r-word (retirement) as far back as 2009.

Allow me to interpret.

He’s a smart, introspective guy with a stream-of-consciousness speech pattern, and his innermost thoughts tend to slip out before he can stop himself. That can get him in trouble, as it did when he criticized his teammate Joe Flacco before the AFC title game in January. The Ravens were furious, but that was “Ed being Ed,” honest to a fault.

He turns 34 in September. He deals daily with chronic hip and neck injuries resulting from his long career. I’m sure he hurts in other places, too. For Reed, the NFL season is an especially withering physical and mental crucible, a grueling and painful test of stamina.

When he told that interviewer he wasn’t 100 percent committed last week, I’m sure he was envisioning the long test ahead, yet another go-round, and he was thinking how “not fun” that sounded. That tends to happen in the spring and summer, when there are no games to stir his juices. Preparation and competition make him tick, and there’s none of that now.

As the season draws nearer and comes into focus, Reed will get himself ready to play. He always does.

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