Late For Work 5/7: NFL World Reacts To Legend Ed Reed's Retirement

NFL World Reacts To Legendary Ed Reed

The greatest ball hawk of all time is saying goodbye to the game he single-handedly changed. Ed Reed is saying goodbye to the safety position that he redefined.

His God-given instincts, backed by meticulous film study and ability to bait quarterbacks, polished off with mind-boggling athleticism,* *made Ed Reed an absolute headache for opposing teams.

For proof, check the video above in which Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady – two of the best in the history of the game – legitimately look stressed as they prepared* *to face Reed. They sat awestruck in the coach's office as they outline exactly what constitutes Reed's greatness. (Mobile users tap "View in browser" at the top of the page to watch.)

"Everything he does, he does at an exceptional level," Belichick tells Brady. "I mean it's just so obvious when he's reading the quarterback. Those receivers will run right past him, and he never flinches. He doesn't even acknowledge them. ... Unbelievable."

"Can't say I've ever coached against anybody better than Ed Reed in the secondary," Belichick said in 2012.

Now* the nine-time Pro Bowl selection and five-time first-team All-Pro * is officially calling it quits today at 2 p.m., and the NFL world has already begun to react …

Retired assistant coach and former Ravens safety Bennie Thompson:"Ed is a Hall of Famer, absolutely," Thompson told The Baltimore Sun. "Ed did some unique things that kind of changed the safety position. That's why I say he's a Hall of Famer. Ed would play on instinct. He knew the game so well. … Ed studied so much film. He knew what the other team was going to do. He knew that six-cut was coming because of how the wide receiver was lined up and, then, there he goes, interception. He knew that he was going to pick it off the whole time."

"I know him off the field and he wasn't a party animal. He didn't stay out all night. He was a student of the game. He went home and studied, so he was already prepared when he came to work. Ed is a legit guy who's very genuine and cared about the game, his teammates and his coaches and the city of Baltimore. There won't be another player quite like Ed Reed."

ESPN's Jamison Hensley: "That's what made Reed one of the best to ever play the safety position. No one knew what he was thinking, and no one knew what he was going to do. Reed's brilliance was his unpredictability. … Quarterbacks never knew where the ball-hawking safety was going to be, and neither did his teammates or coaches. Not the fastest or biggest safety, Reed put himself in a different class of defensive playmakers because of his instincts. And Reed trusted those instincts over defensive game plans at times, which made him dangerous, dynamic and thrilling."

I wanna say thank you Ed Reed for showing me how to be a Hurricane and a Pro. What an honor to learn from the best! #Hurricane #NFL — Kellen Winslow Jr. (@KellenWinslowJr) May 7, 2015

Ed Reed gave my favorite locker room speech of all time. What a player, career http://t.co/mhRxnMVq9g — Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) May 7, 2015

Flacco's 'Curious' Drop In Top 100, Mosley Breaks Through

Veteran quarterback Joe Flacco and rookie linebacker C.J. Mosley were voted by their NFL colleagues as the 97th and 94th best players in the league, respectively.

It's certainly a compliment for Mosley, who broke the Top 100 after his NFL first season. He saw the ranking last night on Twitter and responded with one word: "Blessed."

Mosley led all NFL rookies and Ravens defenders with 133 tackles, which put him* *seventh overall in the NFL. He added three sacks, two interceptions, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

His opponents don't like to admit just how good he is, but his play forced them to choke on compliments in the NFL Network video below (mobile users tap "View in browser" at the top of the page to watch).

"Him being at a rival school, I was just like, 'Uh, you're good, but I don't want to give you your credit,'" said Bengals running back Jeremy Hill, who also faced Mosley in college when Alabama and LSU would compete.

"Well, that's my rival, so I have to be careful not to give him too much juice, but he's a great player," added Chiefs linebacker (Auburn alum) Dee Ford.

Meanwhile, Flacco had a HUGE drop down the player rankings, tumbling 39 spots from the 58th ranking he held last year. Before that, Flacco was No. 13 after the Ravens' Super Bowl XXLVI victory and being named the game's MVP. He was No. 74 in 2012 and No. 90 in 2011.

The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson called Flacco's fall down the rankings this year "curious."

Flacco signed a $120.6 million contract in 2013, and a Steelers rival used that deal to both dis and compliment the Ravens' signal caller.

"During the regular season, it's like, 'Why'd they give this man all this money?'" said now retired Pittsburgh cornerback Ike Taylor. "During the post season, 'Damn!'"

Taylor knows better than anybody* *how deadly January Joe can be. Flacco threw for 259 yards and two touchdowns and zero interceptions when he and the Ravens knocked the Steelers out of the postseason in the wild-card playoff game five months ago.

DeflateGate Fall Out, Wells Report Says Ravens Had Issue With Kicking Balls

The 243-page Ted Wells report was released yesterday, and the following paragraph essentially sums up the investigation's conclusion as it relates to the Patriots' involvement in DeflateGate:

"In particular, we have concluded that it is more probable than not that Jim McNally (the Officials Locker Room attendant for the Patriots) and John Jastremski (an equipment assistant for the Patriots) participated in a deliberate effort to release air from Patriots game balls after the balls were examined by the referee. Based on the evidence, it also is our view that it is more probable than not that Tom Brady (the quarterback for the Patriots) was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of McNally and Jastremski involving the release of air from Patriots game balls."

So now it is up to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to determine any and all punishments handed out to the Patriots, Brady and/or the two staff employees.

The MMQB.com's Peter King summed up Goodell's unenviable position: "Think of it: With no smoking gun, [Goodell] will have to rule on one of the NFL's all-time golden boys. If he bans Brady at least from the NFL's marquee Pittsburgh-New England season opener on Sept. 10, Goodell will be taking the Patriots' best player off the field. And either a suspension or heavy fine will forever mark Brady as a cheater in the eyes of the NFL—with strong suspicions but not incontrovertible proof that he, in essence, ordered the deflated-football version of a code red."

What does all of this mean for the Ravens?   

Per Hensley, there is nothing in the 243 pages of the report that suggests Baltimore had any concerns that the Patriots were using under-inflated balls.  It also didn't suggest that the Ravens tipped off the Colts about under-inflated balls, as previous reports have claimed.

Head Coach John Harbaugh has said the condition of the football had no effect on the Ravens' playoff loss to the Patriots. He also refuted a report his team gave Indianapolis a heads-up.

That said, the Wells report did connect the Ravens to kicking balls used in the divisional round game in Foxboro.

"The Wells report did indicate that the Ravens had an issue with the kicking balls used in their 35-31 AFC divisional playoff loss at New England, which occurred a week before the Patriots-Colts game," wrote Hensley. "On page 45 of the report, the Colts specifically requested that their equipment manager break in the kicking balls after learning that Baltimore players said they had not been provided with Ravens-prepared kicking balls during the playoff game."

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