Quarterbacks can finally rest easy. Ed Reed is officially retiring.
For 12 seasons, Reed was constantly lurking.
When playing against the Ravens, New England quarterback Tom Brady used to wear a wristband that read, "Find 20 on every play," referring to Reed's jersey number.
Reed led the Ravens in interceptions as a rookie in 2002. He snatched an interception in his final game as a Raven, in Super Bowl XLVII.
Reed left Baltimore for one final season in 2013, split between the Texans and Jets. He still recorded three interceptions in his final four games.
Even in pseudo-retirement, Reed was still prowling, still unpredictable.
He tweeted about workouts earlier this offseason, seemingly baiting people – just like he did so many quarterbacks – into the idea that he wanted to make a comeback. On April Fools this year, he tweeted that he was "#reeeeedtired." Later that day, after some media outlets took the bait, Reed tweeted that it was a joke, but added "#couldleadtheNFLinInts."
About this time last year, Reed was still looking to play. He said he was in no rush to file any official papers, and said he would prefer to just fade into the abyss, similar to Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders, never to be seen again.
It's like he always wanted to be a ghost.
But now, more than a year since his last game, Reed has decided to officially call it quits and let his team of 11 years honor No. 20 during the franchise's 20th anniversary season.
Reed will make his announcement Thursday at 2 p.m. at the Under Armour Performance Center with coaches and former teammates in attendance. The event will be streamed live on the Baltimore Ravens' website, mobile apps, mobile site, and iPad app for fans to watch.
If it weren't for linebacker Ray Lewis, Reed would be the greatest defender in Ravens history. Instead, Lewis and Reed worked side by side creating Baltimore's defensive brand.
Reed was a true playmaker that kept quarterbacks and offensive coordinators on edge, constantly guessing. It's in part because Reed himself was guessing on the field. And it was no accident that he often guessed right.
Reed's gifted athleticism, studious habits, uncanny instiancts and playmaking mentality made him the new model for NFL free safeties of his generation, and one of the greatest ball hawks to ever play the game.
His highlights go on for days and his statistics tell the same story. Reed's 64 career interceptions rank sixth all-time in NFL history. Everybody ahead of him had longer careers.
He had the most multi-interception games (13) in NFL history, and his nine career postseason interceptions are tied for the most in league annals with Charlie Waters, Bill Simpson and Ronnie Lott.
It wasn't just making the interception that made Reed special. It was what he did with it afterwards.
Reed has the most interception return yards in NFL history with 1,590. He holds the top two records for longest interception returns in NFL history. He had a 107-yard return for a touchdown against the Eagles in 2008 and a 106-yarder against the Browns in 2004.
Reed was seemingly sometimes the Ravens' best offensive player. He scored 14 touchdowns during his career (including the playoffs) and is the only player in NFL history to score touchdowns off a punt return, blocked punt, interception and fumble recovery.
He perpetually begged teammates to lateral him the ball, or would toss it backwards himself in an attempt to get his man into the end zone.
Reed was entertaining. He was clutch. He was dynamic. He was a leader on the field, in the locker room and in the community.
Finally, in the 2012 season, he* *added champion to those superlatives.
The University of Miami product joined the Ravens as a first-round pick (No. 24) in 2002 – two years after Baltimore's stifling defense led the franchise to its first Super Bowl.
Eleven years later, Reed went home to New Orleans, picked off San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and raised the Lombardi Trophy. With gray in his hair and beard, Reed had finally accomplished it all.
The Ravens were waiting for Reed to officially retire before putting him in their Ring of Honor. Now the NFL Hall of Fame is the only box unchecked on Reed's resume. This time, it's out of his control, but Reed is once again lurking.
Take a look back at the historical 12-year career of the best ball hawk of all time.