Late for Work 2/1: Ed Reed Would Give Up His HOF Spot to a Different Safety

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Ed Reed Would Give Up His HOF Spot to a Different Safety

The NFL world is preparing for Ed Reed to get voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame tomorrow, and there's a lot of reminiscing going on.

One of the best features comes from The Baltimore Sun's Childs Walker, who chatted with Reed about his feelings as he stands on the brink of NFL immortality.

Reed doesn't feel anxious. When Walker got him on the phone, Reed was just enjoying a cigar and chipping some golf balls, not even thinking about the Hall of Fame. What he's enjoying most is connecting with the people who helped get him to this point.

"This is not an individual award," Reed told Walker.

Ravens fans are well versed on Reed's credentials – his 64 career interceptions (seventh-most all-time), 13 touchdowns, nine Pro Bowls in 12 seasons, 2004 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award and Super Bowl XLVII ring.

You can probably close your eyes and perfectly remember one of Reed's magical interceptions and returns (perhaps even with a lateral mixed in).

Reed will (almost assuredly) go into the Hall of Fame one year after Ray Lewis. It seemed, he always followed Lewis. But make no mistake, Reed was his own man and player who deserves just as much acclaim.

"The fates, it seemed, wanted to cast Reed as a sidekick — the Robin to Lewis' Batman ... Reed would not be relegated, however," Walker wrote. "Through his fierce independence as an athlete and a man, he carved out his own space as a football original. Perhaps Lewis overshadowed him in the minds of casual fans. But for those paying attention, and especially for those playing and coaching, Reed existed on his own summit."

"You knew where Ray Lewis was going to be, but you never really had an idea where Reed was going to be," said former Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne, who was college roommates with Reed before competing against him in the NFL.

What especially stood out to me about Walker's feature was that it highlighted the kind of person Reed was off the field. Here's a perfect summary:

"Some days, he pulled his familiar hoodie tight over his scalp and blocked out the world. Others, he treated teammates and reporters to snatches of song or offbeat soliloquies that never seemed to end in the expected place. He might have confounded coaches at times, but teammates admired his willingness to speak up for even the most anonymous man on the roster," Walker wrote.

Reed credited Ravens Senior Advisor to Player Development O.J. Brigance with urging him to mentor the team's rookies. From then on, Reed took the younger players under his wing, and stuck up for the little guy. While Lewis had a locker front and center in the Ravens' locker room, Reed was tucked in the back with all the young players.

"He was always a guy who galvanized the players, a players' guy," said former Ravens linebacker Jameel McClain, who was a former undrafted free agent now is the team's assistant director of player engagement.

"If he thought something was unfair for one person, he wasn't afraid to speak up for that person if they didn't have a voice at the time. If you're at that platform in your career, some people don't speak up. They just feel like it's not their battle. But if there was a burning building, Ed was going to run straight to the smoke."

Perhaps that explains Reed's statements in a recent interview with Bleacher Report, in which he stuck up for another one of the 15 finalists, former Denver Broncos safety Steve Atwater.

"I pray to God that Steve Atwater gets in," Reed said. "If I get in and he doesn't get in, I would rather give my spot to him."

Atwater played 11 NFL seasons. He piled up eight Pro Bowl selections, two first-team All-Pro selections, was named to the 1990's All-Decade Team and won two Super Bowls with the Broncos. But his overall production doesn't quite match Reed's.

"I was never about the accolades," Reed said. "Though you know they're there. There's a lot of people who helped me get to this point. I'm just soaking it in right now. Just being in that talk is enough for me."

So just how good are Reed's odds of getting the knock Saturday?

ESPN asked 48 NFL analysts which five modern-era finalists they would vote into the Hall of Fame (they went 5-for-5 last year), and Reed was the second-highest vote getter with 189 poinds.

That puts Reed as a near lock, but it is interesting that Gonzalez (213 points) has the best odds, according to the group. Gonzalez was a 14-time Pro Bowler and he is arguably the greatest tight end in NFL history, ranking first in receptions (1,325) and yards (15,127).

Oh, and keep your eyes out for Reed to make an appearance in an NFL 100-year anniversary Super Bowl commercial the day after being voted into the HOF …

Julius Peppers Retires, Leaving Terrell Suggs as Active Sacks Leader

After 17 NFL seasons, Julius Peppers announced his retirement this morning, ending the career of one of the preeminent pass rushers of his era (and a surefire future Hall of Famer).

Peppers, 39, finishes with 159.5 career sacks, trailing only Kevin Green (160), Bruce Smith (198) and Reggie White (200). The closest active player is the Ravens' Terrell Suggs at 132.5.

That means that nobody in the NFL will have more sacks than Suggs if he does suit up next season, as he said he intends to do. Whether that's in Baltimore or not remains to be seen.

Suggs, 36, is three years younger than Peppers and had seven sacks last year while still starting every game. Peppers had five sacks in eight starts as he had become more of a rotational player.

Ray Lewis Thinks Basketball Is Soft

Sports fans, including Ravens players, are reacting to the blockbuster trades happening in the NBA.

This seems like an interesting time to point out that Ray Lewis doesn't care.

As Lewis told Dan Patrick on the new season of "Undeniable," he played in one basketball game during his life and thought it was "the softest sport" he's ever been introduced to.

In ninth grade, he was in a game and he chased down a kid on a breakaway layup. He fouled the kid so hard that everybody started going crazy. It was the "first and only time I've quit anything."

Oh, and here's what Lewis thinks will happen in Super Bowl LII ….

Jacoby Jones Thinks He Got His Speed From His 'Crackhead' Father

This is the former Ravens edition of LFW today. On to Jacoby Jones!

Jones has always had some … interesting … opinions on things, and his explanation for why he was so fast certainly falls into that category.

In an interview with Bleacher Report's Tyler Dunne, Jones said he got his speed from his father. OK, that's cool. But wait …

"My dad was a crackhead, so all that [crap] he was smoking was probably in my genes," Jones said. "That's why I don't do drugs. People say I run like a crackhead. I wonder why."

Jones was one of the Ravens' Super Bowl XLVII heroes with a 56-yard touchdown catch and record 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Now 34, he coaches at his alma mater, Lane College, after spending one year in the National Arena League.

Speaking of Super Bowl heroes, let's all appreciate what cornerback Jimmy Smith did for the Ravens six years ago. Pro Football Focus brought it up yesterday.

Quick Hits

  • Looks like Lamar Jackson is having a good time at the Super Bowl LIII festivities …

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