Eisenberg: Revisiting The Ed Reed Decision


I will admit I was rooting for Ed Reed to re-sign with the Ravens and end his career where he should, in Baltimore.

He had done so much with and for the franchise that it didn't seem right for him to end up wearing another uniform, like Johnny Unitas in the San Diego Chargers' powder blue.

But these things happen. In fact, they happen way more often than not in today's NFL, where the dictates of the salary cap easily checkmate any affairs of the heart. Another team was willing to pay him more – quite a bit more – than the Ravens, so he will be with the Houston Texans instead of the Ravens Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.

I miss him. I will admit that, too. As someone to cover, Reed was hands-down like the guy in the beer commercial, the Most Interesting Man on the Ravens. He didn't always want to talk, but when he did, you never knew what might come out. A cookie-cutter company man, he was not.

He was insightful enough to be one of the few guys in the league to complain about various aspects of the collective bargaining agreement the players' union negotiated. He was goofy enough to interrupt his post-game analysis a few years ago to congratulate the U.S. Ryder Cup team on winning … a classic non sequitur.

Teams like to be able to control their guys, but Reed was not easily controlled. Remember when he took shots at Joe Flacco leading up to the 2011 AFC title game? The Ravens were furious. Remember when he skipped their mandatory minicamp in 2012? It didn't endear him to the people walking the corridors of the Under Armour Performance Center.

In the end, the Ravens put up with what they didn't like about Reed because it was easily offset by what they liked about him, such as his instinctive playmaking on the field, the professional tone he set with his zealous film study, the sheer knowledge he brought to the huddle.

And let it be said that few Ravens, if any, sold their body to the cause more than Reed.

But he is 35 now, and while still an asset, not the player he was, so the Ravens set a threshold for what they were willing to offer when he became a free agent last winter, and Reed, ever the contrarian, went and found a better offer. These things happen.

Are the Ravens sorry? On one level, I'm sure they are. As Reed said this week, "I'll always be a Raven." He belongs here, period, and everyone knows it.

But I'm also pretty sure the Ravens aren't second-guessing their decision to let him go.

Soon after he signed with Houston, Reed surprisingly underwent hip surgery, sidelining him for months. He still hasn't played a down for his new team, and it's unclear whether he will make his debut Sunday. You know he wants to, but he admitted this week he is still feeling "tightness and soreness," and the Texans have listed him as questionable. That doesn't sound promising.

The Ravens are familiar with the questions the Texans now face. When will Reed play? Can he last the season? What is he thinking?

The last time Reed underwent hip surgery, in 2010, he spent the first six weeks on the physically unable to perform list and came back playing so well that he ended up leading the NFL in interceptions, a remarkable feat. If he reprises that performance with the Texans in 2013, the Ravens will be sorry.

But doing it at 31 is one thing and doing it at 35 is another. Reed's Houston teammates actually gave him a walker for his recent birthday.

Reed, a good sport, laughed about the gift, understanding its whimsical spirit. Once you have been chided about your age by the president on the White House lawn, as Reed was in June, you can take anything.

Knowing him as well as they do, his former coaches and teammates in Baltimore have offered only praise for him as he prepares to make his return. He is missed. But having said that, I'm pretty sure the decision-makers in the Ravens' organization are fine with his unpredictability being someone else's issue now.

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