Reed May Not Be Hall Of Fame Lock Everyone Thinks He Is
Have you ever used the phrase "sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famer" when talking about Ed Reed?
If you have, you may want to ease off it a bit.
It's not because one of the all-time best NFL safeties isn't deserving of a Canton enshrinement. Reed certainly is. It's because of the history of safeties actually making it in.
"The voters for the Hall of Fame – I am one of 46 – stink at electing safeties," wrote MMQB.com's Peter King. "We do."
"We have completely disregarded the safety position," added another voter, Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News.
Only* one* of the 147 enshrinees to the Pro Football Hall of Fame over the past 26 years has been a safety, per King. He means pure safety. Not ones that played chunks of their careers at cornerback, too.
Soak that in.
That means no safety that has played in the last 35 seasons has received a bronze bust. The one to make it was Minnesota's Paul Krause. He is the league's all-time interceptions leader, and it took him 14 years of eligibility. He retired after the 1979 season, and was finally inducted in 1998.
"I bring this up because so many of you, and so many around the league, nodded when Polamalu called it quits Thursday and said or thought, 'Hall of Famer. Easy call.' He might be. But it won't be an easy call, not if history is the barometer," wrote King.
"You can say he and Reed, and maybe Dawkins, will make it, but now that you know the history, you have to feel a little shaky."
Even though King feels we might be in the "midst of a golden age for safeties" with current stars playing the game and recently retired Dawkins, Reed and Polamalu, he still doesn't have much confidence about their enshrinements.
If Reed doesn't make an NFL comeback this season, he will be eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2019 and Polamalu in 2020.
In order for Reed or Polamalu to be inducted, King says they'd have to leapfrog several other safety greats, including Cliff Harris, a former finalist, and Kenny Easley and Dick Anderson, who were one-time Defensive Players of the Year like Reed. That doesn't even mention Jake Scott, LeRoy Butler, Darren Woodson, Rodney Harrison and Steve Atwater.
There will also be competition from icons at other positions that will be up for discussion over the next four years, leading with our own Ray Lewis in 2018. There's also Brett Favre, Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, LaDainian Tomlinson, Randy Moss, Tony Gonzalez and Brian Urlacher.
"So the battle for safeties will only get tougher," wrote King.
Will Reed break the streak? Can he be a first-ballot Hall of Fame safety?
This much is true: if Reed doesn't make it in his first year of eligibility, his second try could be an even longer shot. Polamalu will give him competition in 2020, and given the Hall of Fame history, it's hard to see two safeties enshrined in a single year.
If King could only vote for one, it seems clear which way he'd go:
Flacco Only Has Bad Memories Of Polamalu
Joe Flacco played more times against Polamalu than any other NFL quarterback.
They matched wits 14 times during their careers, including three times in the playoffs, and none of those encounters were pleasant for Flacco.
"The only recollections I have of Troy are bad," Flacco told King from his New Jersey home Saturday. "All bad. So no, I don't have many good memories of making plays on him.
"Now [that he retired], I've got to take a step back and appreciate the games we played against him and the Steelers. I am a man of few words, and so is Troy, but I do know I'll tell my children and grandchildren I was lucky enough to play in these games, and lucky enough to play against Troy so many times. Troy's an example of the right way to do things, on the field and off the field. Such a great competitor on every play, and he treats everyone the right way. That's the right way to handle yourself. The image he had, the example he set … he just did it right."
Flacco was taught by Ravens coaches ever since his rookie season that he needed to know where Polamalu was on the field at all times – both in the passing and running game.
"Every time we played them, that's the first thing we talked about, and we ended up talking about it all week," Flacco said.
That lesson was unfortunately reiterated on the field during the AFC championship game in the 2008 postseason. Ravens fans remember the game-sealing play all too well. The Steelers held a 16-14 lead with five minutes remaining when Flacco had the ball on third-and-15.
Flacco knew that Polamalu knew the play was designed to go to wide receiver Derrick Mason on a 15-yard corner stop. But Flacco also knew it might be his last chance at winning the game, and he thought he could squeeze the pass through a tight window past Polamalu.
"I kept my eyes up the middle, like I was going to the other guy," Flacco said. "Troy was just hanging out. I think he knew what I was thinking. He knew where we wanted to go with it—we wanted to get the first down to extend the drive. I made a bad assumption, that the window would be a little bigger than it was. It wasn't, because Troy was there."
Flacco added: "I learned a lot about Troy on that play, honestly. In the run game, you're always going to run away from Troy. But when we were throwing, I'd just always try to throw away from him. You can't do it all the time, and you can't let it ruin your game, but there were so many things he did that other safeties just couldn't do. There were times in games—he was the only guy I faced who did this—where he'd turn his back to the play and just sprint to a spot on the field where his football instincts told him the ball was going. He'd turn around a couple seconds later when he got close to the spot."
Ravens-Eagles Joint Practices?
Head Coach John Harbaugh said a few weeks ago at the NFL Owners Meetings that he would like to conduct more joint practices with another NFL team. The original plan was to continue them with the San Francisco 49ers, but that was when his brother was still their head coach.
Harbaugh felt the joint practices were beneficial, and has had preliminary talks with more than one other NFL head coach* *about the possibility. Now that the preseason schedule has been finalized and released, more concrete plans can be made.
Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec and Philadelphia Comcast SportsNet analyst Geoff Mosher both speculated that the Ravens and Eagles could team up this summer ahead of their preseason game on Aug. 21 or Aug. 22 at Lincoln Financial Field.
"A lot of details would have to be worked out, obviously, but Harbaugh felt like the Ravens got a lot out of last summer's practices with the San Francisco 49ers," wrote Zrebiec. "The Eagles also have held them in the past couple of years under coach Chip Kelly.
"Practicing against the Eagles' up-tempo offense would be good preparation for the season."
Zrebiec: Don't Buy Into Green-Beckham Possibility
General Manager Ozzie Newsome may be toying with Ravens fans' emotions, especially those who dream of a big-bodied wide receiver like Missouri's Dorial Green-Beckham.
Newsome said last week that Green-Beckham came to Owings Mills for a visit, and that the troubled receiver hadn't been taken off the Ravens' draft board despite accusations of domestic violence in his background.
"Is the meeting with Green-Beckham a sign that the Ravens are reconsidering that policy?" asked Zrebiec. "I don't want to speak for Newsome, but I highly doubt it.
"My guess is that the Ravens are doing their due diligence and wanted to take the opportunity to meet Green-Beckham and see what he's about. You can't blame the Ravens for that."
Steelers Keep Up With Ravens, Visit With Peters
It comes as little surprise that the Ravens aren't the only AFC North team to be considering one of the draft's top cornerback prospects.
After Marcus Peters recently visited with Ravens brass, per Newsome, the Washington cornerback shot over to Pittsburgh for the Steelers to get to know him, the team announced. Peters has admitted that he deserved to get kicked off his college team after he clashed with coaches.
Both the Ravens and Steelers are doing their due diligence on the player that is considered the second-best at his position in this year's draft class.
"The fact Peters has already visited the Ravens should make the Steelers] [even more careful to do their due diligence," wrote ProFootballTalk.com's Darin Gantt.
Like Baltimore, Pittsburgh would also like to build up its secondary. If they both like Peters and he's still around late in the first round, the Steelers will get the first shot at him. Pittsburgh (No. 22) picks four spots ahead of Baltimore (No. 26).
Campbell Leaning Toward Retirement
When the Ravens signed Matt Schaub to be the backup quarterback for Flacco, some wondered whether veteran Jason Campbell would have been a better fit.
Turns out, the Ravens may have wondered the same thing, but Campbell is instead leaning toward retirement, reported ProFootballTalk.com's Mike Florio.
"Per a league source, Campbell has rejected multiple opportunities to sign a contract for 2015, with the Ravens and Bengals among the franchises to which Campbell said 'thanks' and then 'no thanks,'" wrote Florio.
Williams Wins Extra Effort Award
Ravens nose tackle Brandon Williams was the recipient of the annual Ravens Extra Effort Award from Ravens Roost No. 7 during a weekend banquet at the Hagerstown Elks Club, according to The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson.
In his first year as a starter last season, Williams started all but one game and was a major cog in a Ravens unit that finished fourth in rushing defense and sixth in scoring defense.
"I feel like I established respect," said Williams. "Whether they fear me or not, it's my job. If you're in my way, that's the cost of doing business. ... I won't be pushed around. I can hold my own."
Fellow Ravens nose tackle Kelly Gregg won the Extra Effort award 12 years ago, a player who Williams has studied.
"It's an honor and a blessing to win this award," Williams said. "Knowing those guys had it before me and won it, that means a lot. Those are players you want to be like when you get older in your career. When you get to that point where you are that guy, that's what I'm striving for and what I want to be."
This isn't Ravens or football related, but it's powerful and a good message for kids: