Little Boy Reed Crying Wolf?
By Stan "The Fan" Charles
Some people have nervous tics, some people have twitches and some people just simply can't help themselves. Then, there is the Baltimore Ravens' not-so-free safety Ed Reed. Reed combines all three of those idiosyncratic behaviors, and we'll throw in one more that is commonly offered up in poker-playing circles -- Reed has a tell when he is bluffing.
Reed told SiriusXM NFL Radio May 17 that he wasn't 100 percent committed to playing football in 2012. My bet, after having watched Reed pull this kind of traveling road-show act a few times, is that he will have more than seven million reasons to be on the football field when mandatory workouts begin in mid-June.
Although Reed is still a wonderful football player, and a certain first-ballot Hall of Famer, he is no longer the can't-do-without talent he once was. But that's not to say Reed isn't an important, want-to-bring-back type of talent.
Boston baseball fans used to use the expression "Manny being Manny" when talking about the behavior of left fielder Manny Ramirez. As the headline of this column suggests, this is just the Baltimore equivalent -- Reed being Reed.
What is different about Reed's protestations this time around is how much the player safety concern dynamic is playing into his doubts about whether he wants to come back and subject his body and mind to this sort of brutality.
In an ideal world, Reed would walk in and talk to his bosses directly. But, for all his greatness and go-to-war attitude on the field, straightforward communication is not one of Reed's strong suits. Consequently, we go through this sort of trial by media circus. Reed tells talk-show folks, both locally and nationally, how he really feels about how the Ravens treat him, but then "really" tells it like it is to a local beat guy refuting what he has said for the past 30 days.
Reed, who will turn 34 in September, doesn't have all that much longer to run with this act. The sands are clearly running through the hour glass of his brilliant career. But, there is still football left in his body, and that means there is still money out there on the table. Though I don't think money is what drives Reed, what that money and tangible show of respect mean to him is immeasurable.
Unfortunately, what may be more measurable are the quality-of-life deficits Reed faces by making that one last money grab. The suicides of former NFL defensemen Dave Duerson and Junior Seau led to discussions about post-career issues directly related to brain injuries. Reed's public conversations with himself could be early warning signs of how he processes information and communicates.
There was a certain jovial lightness in referring to this type of behavior as simply Reed being Reed. But the reality is that Reed could be talking out of both sides of his mouth because that is how he thinks now.
Though Ravens fans may want Reed to let it all hang out on the field one more time, increasingly, there is a part of me that is saying: "Ed, I hope this isn't a money grab. I hope you are really concerned about your health."
But then the cynic inside me starts to say Reed is just the first guy using the scare tactics about player safety and long-term health as a negotiating ploy.
Posted May 18, 2012