TEAMMATES CIRCLE REED
Can't imagine what Ed Reed is going through right now.
His brother Brian was last seen jumping into the Mississippi River a week ago today. Many are assuming Brian is dead, but Ed and his family hope for better news.
In the meantime, of course, Ed's job requires him to be very public and most visible. He's an NFL player, in fact, a great player, and he is scrutinized daily by both media and fans. Ed obviously has loyalty to his teammates, but, more importantly, devotion to his family. What to do? Ed decided to continue to play, because, as he said: "That's what my brother would want me to do."
This jarring circumstance is part of what the Ravens are today, and Coach John Harbaugh, a deeply religious person, and Reed's teammates, have not ignored the plight of Ed and his family.
The first time the team came together after news broke of Brian Reed's circumstance last Friday was Saturday morning. When "Harbs" brought the team up for a huddle after the walk through (day-before-game practice), he asked all players to kneel. Ed was there. When prayers were offered for Brian and the Reed family by team chaplain Rod Hairston, many coaches and players had tears in their eyes as Ed wept.
Later that afternoon, the charter to Kansas City was much more quiet than usual, as we all respected Ed's sorrow. Many teammates walked by Ed's seat and touched him on his outside shoulder, most without saying a word.
OUR BROTHER IS HURT
Terrell Suggs was miked by NFL Films for the Kansas City game, and I had the opportunity to watch and listen to the full video. Suggs, who irritated us this week with the obscene shirt he wore for his media interviews on Wednesday, was both inspiring and sympathetic during the pre-game at New Arrowhead Stadium. At one point, he gathered his teammates on the field, and here's what he said:
"You must be your brother's keeper today. One of our brothers is hurt. This is the only time to keep his mind free - these three hours with you.
"Play for him today. Play for our brother. This is our turn. It's our next step to Dallas.
"Everybody up! Get your hand in here. 'Our brother' on three. One, two, three." And the team shouted, "Our Brother!"
In the jubilation following the victory over the Chiefs, the "brothers" turned to Ed again. Derrick Mason and Coach Harbaugh talked about a game ball, and Derrick presented it to Ed, "for you and your family." The head coach then asked Ed if he would break the huddle, and many of you saw this video that brought more tears to almost everyone in the locker room. Ed could barely get the words out, but they included a thank you and this: "My brother would want us to beat Pittsburgh, too."
I smiled through my tears.
RAY WEARS SUPER BOWL RING
When Ray Lewis came to the CBS-TV production meeting shortly after our arrival at our Kansas City hotel last Saturday, he sat at the front of a big conference table. He placed his hands in front of him and everyone noticed that he was wearing his Super Bowl XXXV championship ring.
"Nice ring," Phil Simms noted. "How often do you wear it?"
"I don't," Ray replied. "Maybe a couple of times ever since we got them. I thought this might be a good time to wear it and let my teammates see what we're playing for.
"It's a good reminder for me, too," Lewis continued. "I've had it on the table next to my bed all week."
Simms asked Ray what message he was trying to deliver by wearing the ring.
"I want them to know that we can do this. We're as good as anybody - Kansas City, New England, the Jets, Colts or Steelers. Why can't we do this? We already know we can play with the Steelers, Patriots, the Falcons, the Saints. We can beat the Chiefs. We were ready to play the Colts this week.
"I want my teammates to know that you can be on good teams for 15 years and have just one ring. We can all get a ring this year if we keep focused on what we need to do every day and then every play in the game. I like this team, and I think we are playing our best at the right time."
Well, Ray, we certainly did play well in Kansas City. Let's do it again at Heinz Field.
I'm going to compliment the Steelers' fans. Easy now... Sometimes you have to give credit when it is deserved.
When the Steelers need a big defensive stand, they play the song "Renegade" by Styx. A lot of you know the song. It starts out with a lone voice singing:
"Oh Momma, I'm in fear for my life from the long arm of the law..."
Eventually, the song explodes with heavy base, big guitars and drums with, "The jig is up, the news is out..." Well, by the time they get to "The jig is up," Heinz Field is literally rocking, as 65,000 stand in unison, pounding their feet, waving those damn towels while screaming to the music. The noise is deafening, and the stadium vibrates. It's actually a little scary, feeling like the start of an earthquake.
Guess what the Ravens have heard all week in practice? "Renegade." Yes, instead of the usual high-volume crowd noise we play during the offensive part of our practices before road games, Coach Harbaugh just had that song blasting from the speakers. Saw some of the players and coaches dancing to the tune this week. Others have learned all the words by now.
On Wednesday, when we moved to a defensive part of practice - when there is no noise piped in - you could hear Suggs, while rushing the passer, singing: "Oh Momma, nah, nah, nah, nah, naah, I'm coming after Ben."
Made me laugh.
RAY RICE, FLIGHT ATTENDANT
I owe this story to Colin Ward, WBAL/98 Rock producer of Ravens radio broadcasts. During our flight to Kansas City, Colin said Ray Rice was helping pick up food trays on our charter. Rice collected Ward's tray:
Rice: "Are you finished?"
Rice to Ryan Bogash (also of WBAL Radio), who was seated next to Ward: "You too?"
Ward: "Don't take his tray."
Rice: "I got it."
Ward: "You're going to drop it if you take both trays."
Rice: "Check the stats, I haven't fumbled all year."
And, I don't think we're going to fumble in Pittsburgh. Let's beat the Steelers. Go Ravens!
Talk with you next week.