Jan/30/13 11:03 PM Filed in: Ed Reed
NEW ORLEANS | Ten feet away in the hotel ballroom serving as the home for the Baltimore Ravens’ media availability Monday night was Ray Lewis’ mini-podium, complete with 15 cameras and dozens of reporters, some of whom weren’t speaking English.
But Ed Reed didn’t care.
Even if he will someday be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, is generally regarded as the finest safety of his generation and is having a homecoming this week — he grew up in the New Orleans area.
Reed, the Ravens’ other 30-something defensive leader (he’s 34) will be in complete soak-up mode entering Sunday’s Super Bowl against San Francisco.
“I can’t explain it,” he said. “This is awesome. To come back to Louisiana in front of my home crowd for the Super Bowl, I’m really speechless because of everything I’ve been through to get to this point. I’m just trying to enjoy it and not hold anything in.”
Reed has held nothing back during a career that spans 160 regular-season games, 1,541 tackles, 61 interceptions and six All-Pro selections.
This postseason, he played all 271 Ravens defensive snaps in wins over Indianapolis, Denver and New England. This will be his first Super Bowl.
In the regular season, Reed had 58 tackles, and his four interceptions were tied for the team lead.
Vocally, Reed carried the Ravens defense when Lewis was lost to a torn triceps injury.
Lewis is a popular figure because this will be his last game, but Reed is just as important.
“He’s always been a staple,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “Ray gets a lot of the attention, and rightfully so, but Ed’s been here for 11 years, and he’s a fixture in Baltimore.”
That status was in doubt a few years ago because of injuries.
Reed missed four games in 2009 (ankle) and six games in 2010 (hip surgery). This year, he has played through a torn labrum in his shoulder.
And he said he’s played with a nerve injury for the last six to seven years. “I know that’s affected me,” he said.
To fight Football Father Time, Reed said he has employed a physician who visits the Baltimore area weekly — at Reed’s own expense — to help his recovery process.
“I’ve been doing some great things with my doctor to combat the aging that we have,” Reed said. “We age faster than everybody because of what we do. The truth is that football takes a toll on your life and your body.”
Despite the acknowledgement that he has slowed down on the field, Harbaugh lauds Reed’s impact on the secondary from an emotional standpoint. And one of Reed’s biggest fans has been Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
“He’s had fabulous production at whatever he’s done,” Belichick said. “His interceptions, his instinctiveness, his play-making ability, how consistent he’s been over time. He just does things that nobody else at that position does, or I don’t know if they’ve ever done it. He’s really special.”
Reed intends to play in 2013, but hopes his trip home ends with a special win.