Ed Reed or Troy Polamalu

The long-standing argument for the AFC North blog is this: Who will be remembered as the better safety, Ed Reed or Troy Polamalu?

We're going to try to settle this debate by allowing three readers to present the cases for Reed and Polamalu. In the comments section below, let me know who you think gave the most persuasive argument.

Ed Reed is the best
• Milan from the Ville: Team accomplishments aside, Ed Reed is the best safety of the generation. He changed the league-wide desire from big, in-the-box hitters (like the late Sean Taylor) to a more athletic, secondary-patrolling ball hawk. Both were playmakers and feared by offenses, but Ed is/was the best pass-defending safety in a passing league. The biggest tipping point for me, though, is Reed is still a threat when playing injured. Polamalu becomes a liability in the passing game when not at 100 percent like the last two playoff runs.

• William from Baltimore: This is not a knock to Polamalu, who is undoubtedly one of the all-time greats at safety. The difference is in how they make offenses play. Against Polamalu, offenses accept that their gains will be small, even nonexistent. That doesn't mean they will avoid his area of the field, just that they accept that if it goes there, not much will probably come of it. Reed, on the other hand, is regularly avoided, even now after a noticeable decline. Most passes that even go near him are tipped down or away, and for most of his career, he was a constant threat to take any interception he made -- and he has far more than Polamalu -- straight to the proverbial house. In terms of all-around-player, the Steeler might have the edge. But as a game-changer, in both the score and the alteration of any plan put into action, Ed Reed is almost unique in NFL history.

• Lee from Washington, D.C.: While I may be biased as a Ravens fan, Ed Reed is the better player because he is the better playmaker. Both are astounding, but Reed has more interceptions. He has played one more season, and yet has a vast amount more. Reed has double the interceptions (he has 57, Polamalu has 29). That alone should give him the best safety title. Not to mention, for every time an announcer praises Polamalu's instinct, there is another where he makes a poor assumption and gives up a big play. You just don't see that with Reed; he doesn't make many mistakes. Polamalu supporters say he's a better tackler, but if you watch Reed, he has better form and misses fewer tackles. He doesn't "launch," hit high, or expose himself to injury the way Troy does. In fact, Reed has hardly ever been injured enough to miss games (10 career) to Troy, who has missed 18. In fact, in most interviews with current or former QBs, they say if they have to throw the ball, the last person they want to see is Ed Reed.

No, Troy Polamalu is the best
• Troy from Atlanta: While I have much respect for Reed, I'd have to say Polamalu. What other player in this era can jump the center for a sack, beat Chris Johnson wide in the backfield, and cover the whole secondary sideline to sideline? His most memorable play has to be the his one handed interception in the snow (an inch off the ground). In the end, both players will be in the Hall of Fame, but Polamalu is all-time NFL highlight worthy.

• Matthew from Pittsburgh: While I have to respect the career that Ed Reed has put together and acknowledge that he is certainly one of the best to play the position in NFL history, Troy Polamalu will be remembered more for his contributions. My argument for this is not based on statistics and numbers as both players have comparable and impressive résumés. It is because Troy has revolutionized the way that the position is played where Ed has played the position exceedingly well but in the traditional style of the position. Nobody can argue that Troy is an ordinary safety. He is all over the place and that is what makes him more memorable than Ed Reed or any other safety currently in the game.

• Tom from Middle River, Md.: A lot of folks around here would probably be upset to hear me say this being that I'm a die-hard Ravens fan, but I would have to give the nod to Polamalu as the better safety if their careers ended today. In terms of pure ability, Polamalu is a much better run-stopper, blitzer and tackler than Reed is, plus he has a similar knack for getting interceptions. Reed only gets a slight edge as a better 'pick' artist and cover player. Polamalu has also made more game-changing plays over his career and has done so in more meaningful playoff games and Super Bowls than Ed has as well. Troy just has a better résumé when you stack the two side-by-side, so he gets the nod in my opinion.

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