Reed finally gets his chancePublished 1:56pm Saturday, January 26, 2013
By Ed Bailey
There are few things more moving than a perfectly executed feel-good story in sports.
It has emotion, human interest, adversity and ultimately, success. It runs the gamut of everything a good, passionate story needs.
This year’s Super Bowl has a good one: One of the greatest players to ever suit up will hit the field in what could be his last game.
No, I’m not talking about soon-to-be-retired Ray Lewis, although his story is a nice one. The man I’m referring to is, in my view, the finest free safety to ever play in the NFL.
If you ask me, he’s the single most-feared coverage guy going today and if you were to look up “ball-hawk” in Webster’s, you’d see a picture of him as the definition.
I’m talking about Baltimore Ravens free safety and former Miami Hurricane, Ed Reed.
Don’t get me wrong, the media as a whole will probably spend the better part of two weeks talking about how Ray Lewis’ decision to retire has propelled the Ravens through the AFC.
There may even be a small portion where Reed gets his story told.
But for now, I’d like to take this time to celebrate the accomplishments of one of my all-time favorite players and how he’s just an example of what the Ravens have faced.
The 11-year veteran has been to nine Pro Bowls.
He is an eight-time All-Pro selection and a former NFL Defensive Player of the Year award winner.
When he does walk away from the game, he’ll probably become exhibit A-Z in how to bait quarterbacks into ill advised throws.
Oh, and when that does happen, chances are he’s scoring six out of the deal.
After fighting through nagging injuries, the death of his brother, numerous all-time records and a reputation as perhaps the premier defensive game-changer of his era … the first ballot hall-of-famer finally has a chance to take part in his profession’s greatest spectacle.
Even better is that all of this is taking place in New Orleans, which is just minutes outside of his hometown in St. Rose, La.
How’s that for a story, eh? A hometown hero returns home to play for the Lombardi Trophy.
The Ravens themselves are filled with stories like this.
Torrey Smith lost his brother earlier this year. Matt Birk is on his second set of last legs.
Terrell Suggs, who played through a torn triceps and came back early from a torn Achilles tendon, and Haloti Ngata are each growing long in the tooth.
Yeah, Ray will get most of the publicity but as he’s said, he’s only along for the ride.
Ray is just a small part; just a glimpse of all the struggles and adversity that Baltimore has gone up against this year.
And to me, not too many people exemplify that struggle more than Ed Reed, who was with the Ravens when they came up short in the 2008 and 2011 AFC Championship game.
Perhaps the third time could be the charm for the representatives of the Charm City.
I do know this, though: I hope it is the charm for Ed Reed simply because it couldn’t happen to a better and in my opinion, more deserving player.
All I have to say about this player finally getting a shot at the Lombardi is this: it’s about time.
Bailey is sports editor for The Outlook