Ed Dickson is officially hanging it up, and the former tight end wants to forever be known as a Raven.
Dickson, 35, was drafted by the Ravens in 2010 and played his first four seasons in Baltimore. He was a key part of their Super Bowl XLVII team, sharing the tight end duties with Dennis Pitta.
While Dickson never became a big-time pass catching tight end, he had a 10-year career in the NFL – a feat not too many players accomplish.
"Baltimore set the standard," Dickson said this week. "They helped me come in and create a career, build a career, create a leadership mentality that spring boarded my career from that first year to 10-plus. I've always been satisfied with my time I spent in Baltimore. After revisiting it with the family, I wanted to retire a Raven and be a Raven for life."
Dickson played the same number of years (four) as a Carolina Panther as he did a Raven. But, as the Ravens get set to play the Panthers this Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, Dickson knows his heart is purple.
He's been debating whether to officially retire for a little while. His last game played was in 2018 with the Seattle Seahawks, which was sort of a homecoming as he grew up on the West Coast and played his college ball at Oregon. The Seahawks had signed him to a three-year contract before the 2018 season, but a knee injury derailed his time there and ultimately brought his career to a close.
Dickson still lives in Seattle and is married with four kids. Fatherhood has always been very important to him, and he and his wife are trying to launch a real estate business.
"Moving onto the next chapter," Dickson said. "I debated on going back for a while, but I was like, 'No, I've still got decent health.' So I put the cleats away to be a fan."
Dickson and Pitta were 2010 draft mates, with Dickson being picked in the third round and Pitta in the fourth. They backed up Todd Heap as rookies, then Dickson broke out in 2011, setting career highs in receptions (54), receiving yards (528) and touchdowns (five). There was one epic game in Seattle when he caught 10 passes on 14 targets and two touchdowns.
However, the Pitta-Joe Flacco connection took off in 2012, and Pitta became the Ravens' go-to pass catching tight end. Dickson handled it with class, evolving his role to help the team.
"I got put in the position where I had to become a better blocker than anything. There was room enough for both of us to shine," Dickson said. "When Dennis got his opportunity, he took advantage of it. I couldn't be mad about that. I found an opportunity to get on the field no matter what. That helped me throughout my career."
Dickson caught two passes for 37 yards in the Ravens' Super Bowl XLVII victory. First, he had a tough grab of 24 yards despite taking a big hit. Two plays later, he hauled in a 14-yard reception and was yanked down by his facemask, drawing a penalty. Two plays later, the Ravens scored their second touchdown of the game on a 1-yard touchdown pass to Pitta to open a 14-3 lead. Dickson also blocked on Jacoby Jones' 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
"I didn't have remarkable stats, but I was a part of everything," Dickson said. "Everything played a crucial piece in winning that Super Bowl. I remember every play like it was yesterday and that was over a decade ago."
The Panthers originally signed Dickson to a one-year deal in 2014 when Dickson's Ravens contract expired. Dickson only caught 10 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown in his first season as a Panther, but he was a valuable player who backed up another pass-catching tight end, Greg Olsen. After seeing the leadership Dickson brought from Baltimore, Carolina inked him to a three-year extension the following offseason.
"Baltimore gave me the opportunity to go into Carolina as a veteran player and set that standard," Dickson said. "It was a totally different team, but I became a leader in that locker room based off my time in Baltimore and after listening to all the great leadership I had."
Dickson went to a second Super Bowl with the Panthers in the 2015 season, though they fell to the Broncos.
Dickson is still involved with community service in the Baltimore area, especially the Ed Block Courage award. He has many thanks for Steve Bisciotti, Ozzie Newsome, Eric DeCosta and John Harbaugh, who helped him build a long and successful career.
"Players from Baltimore survive longer because it's a first-class organization," Dickson said.
"More than anything, I enjoyed going out to battle with my teammates. I knew it didn't matter what game we played in, we were always going to be in any game because of the way we played, the way we practiced, our mentality. Nobody wanted to play against the Ravens."