The finalists for this year’s NFL Hall of Fame class were announced earlier in January and like every class, it is loaded with talent. Of the 15 finalists that were named, a maximum of five players can be inducted at the NFL Honors on February 2nd. Few are as deserving as 12-year safety Ed Reed.
The Case for Ed Reed as a First Ballot of Famer
The Ball-Hawk from the Bayou
Reed was born and raised in Louisiana and discovered his love for football at Destrehan High School. After a stellar senior season, Reed earned all-state honors and received a scholarship to play football at the University of Miami. The Miami football program and Reed were a perfect fit for each other as Reed quickly blossomed into one of the better defensive backs on the roster.
After redshirting in 1997, Reed went on to lead his team in interceptions the following two seasons. He went on to be recognized as a consensus first-team All-American his junior and senior season and led the nation in 2001 with nine interceptions and three pick-sixes. Reed helped the Hurricanes win the 2001 National Championship and was nominated the Big East Conference player of the year. Reed holds the Miami record for most career interceptions (21) and interceptions returned for touchdowns (5).
After being drafted 24th overall by the Baltimore Ravens, Reed went on to start all 16 games as a rookie and continued to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks. He finished the season with five interceptions, 12 pass deflections, and 85 tackles and was awarded All-Rookie first team honors. Reed, alongside Ray Lewis, Chris McAllister, Terrell Suggs, and Will Demps, helped the Ravens become one of the most feared defenses for much of the 2000s.
Reed went on to have 11 seasons of three or more interceptions and led the NFL in interceptions three different times (2004, 2008, 2010). Reed mastered the art of “baiting” and consistently tricked quarterbacks into thinking their wide receivers were open, only to have the safety range over and break up or intercept their pass.
Once the ball was in Reed’s hands, he became a different player. His returner background came into play and Reed always was thinking end zone after a pick. The former Hurricane returned punts in college and in high school so every interception to him was a chance to flash his ability in the open field.
The greats like Ed Reed saw the game like no one else could, not even his own head coach pic.twitter.com/V7uMQ6TINV
— cookieboy17 (@cookieboy1794) June 24, 2017
Reed’s seven career interceptions returned for a touchdown ranks 11th all-time while his 1,590 interception return yards ranks first in NFL history. His 64 career interceptions rank seventh all-time and he stands alone in fifth place with 13 non-offensive touchdowns. Reed also holds the record for the two longest interception returns in NFL history, 107 and 106 yards.
Reed was a playmaker no matter where you placed him on the field. He returned one punt for a touchdown and returned three blocked punts/kicks for touchdowns in his NFL career.
Defense. Special teams. It didn’t matter.
Wherever you put him, Ed Reed just made plays.
— NFL Throwback (@nflthrowback) December 20, 2018
The nine-time pro bowler eventually helped the Ravens win a Super Bowl in 2013 after they defeated the San Francisco 49ers 34-31. Reed recorded five tackles and his ninth career postseason interception in the victory. During the following off-season, the Ravens announced they would move on from the five-time all-pro safety making Reed a free agent in 2013. He signed with the Houston Texans but was cut in early November. He finished the year with the New York Jets and decided to retire at the conclusion of the season.
Reed will be remembered as one of the most dynamic defensive players of the 21st century. His technique, athleticism and studious habits helped him become one of the most feared at his position. Few safeties in NFL history can say they had to be game planned against but Reed is one of the few, which is why he deserves to nominated to Canton in 2019.
Embed from Getty Images