But now the veteran safety is in the final year of his contract, leaving his future in Baltimore up in the air.
“I’m not thinking about that right now, man,” Reed said Thursday. “My focus is to finish this season off right now and prepare for the playoffs and go from there. As far as my future, it’s all about the near future and now. It’s not about offseason or anything right there.”
The Ravens tried to work out a contract extension with Reed before the 2011 season, but the two sides weren’t able to agree on a deal. Unlike most players, Reed does not have an agent to head up negotiations.
Reed, 34, has been back-and-forth in recent years about whether he is going to retire. He has dealt with shoulder, neck and hip injuries the last few seasons, and his long-term health is a consideration as he decides whether to keep playing.
“I know physically I feel like I can play, but also physically I have concerns for my life after football,” Reed said.
Reed has shown signs of ailments affecting him at times this season, as he has avoided contact and missed tackles on occasion.
But Reed is still one of the top safeties in the game, and he was named to his ninth Pro Bowl this week. He has 58 tackles on the year, his most since 2006, and his four interceptions have already topped last year’s total (three).
Reed is also one of only two players for the Ravens defense to start every game this season.
“The things I have to deal with, the ailments I have to deal with as a player, for me to play all games, all 16 games, I’m doing what I’m supposed to do with my doctor in the offseason, and in season maintaining myself,” Reed said. “I’m doing the right things physically. It’s something I take pride in. It’s something I try to help the young guys with.”
“I’m glad my body is holding up and bouncing back through the ailments that I have right now.”
At this point of his career, Reed acknowledged that his range in the secondary isn’t exactly what it used to be, but he tries to compensate for that with his understanding of the mental part of the game.
“It’s definitely not what it used to be when I was 24, versus 34,” Reed said. “But that’s where the mental part comes into it. You slow down physically, but mentally you get a lot stronger and you understand the game more, which allows me to play the game a certain way and understand how to play the game.”
Whenever Reed does decide to call it quits, he’s headed to Canton as a likely first-ballot Hall of Famer. While he knows that’s in front of him, Reed said he doesn’t spend much time thinking about it.
“Only when I’m joking with these guys, when I feel like I’m losing respect around here,” Reed said, laughing. “I throw it in their face. But no, that’s all out of jokes, out of love. I try not to think about that because that’s down the line.
“When you’re on the field it’s not like there’s a bubble on your head saying ‘he’s a Hall of Famer, don’t throw his way’ and all that stuff, even though it’s kind of there. That’s nothing that you can take to the football field at any given moment, that gives you that respect that guys won’t come your way, or won’t jump over you. It’s not really something that I think about. I’d rather be a Hall of Fame dad.”
Reed has also been in the middle of the discussion about player safety this year. He was suspended by the NFL for one game for multiple helmet-to-helmet hits, but that suspension was overturned by an independent arbitrator.
Reed was once again flagged for hitting a defenseless receiver in Sunday’s game against the Giants, where he led with his shoulder to separate wide receiver Victory Cruz from the football. He has not been suspended for that hit thus far, and said that he has not heard yet from the NFL about a possible fine.
Reed also said that he’s not worried about what will come of it.
“Actually not at all, man,” Reed responded when asked if his fingers are crossed waiting for a ruling from the NFL. “It’s just an interesting situation. For me to do the interview with Troy Aikman before the game about that and knowing what happened. I just play the game, man, and I just let them make those decisions."