Ed Reed should retire. Not because he can’t be effective anymore. Not because the team is better off without him. He should retire because it gives him the best chance at living a life with as little pain as possible.
There’s been some discussion among Ravens fans that Ed Reed is washed up. There were claims that the Ravens were better off with him on the sidelines last year. “Look how much better the DBs played when he was out vs. when he was in!”
The problem with that is, while it may be true that they improved at the same time he was hurt, it’s a limited sample size of data, and not at all proven to be a cause-and-effect. Too many other factors could have caused the improvement in play.
Couldn’t it have simply been a case of the defense getting used to Mattison’s new schemes?
The bottom line is that Ed Reed is a future Hall of Famer. In eight seasons he’s amassed 46 INTs, working his way into the top 50. At that rate he would need only four and a half more seasons to pass Rod Woodson to land at #3 on the list; and Woodson played till he was 38.
Reed is one of the best to ever play the position. And you can’t simply remove one of the best ever from the field and call it “an improvement.” He isn’t washed up yet and he’s got more productive seasons ahead if he wants it.
Leaving would automatically downgrade the Ravens defense.
However, he has to consider himself in this matter. It’s something most football players rarely do, but they should do more of. The one most notable exception, Barry Sanders, retired early for two reasons. First he couldn’t take the culture of losing in the Lions organization…the Ravens don’t have this problem. And secondly, he was concerned for his future health. Just over ten years later, Sanders is reportedly living well and generally without many of the issues several RBs face after pushing their bodies to the limit for as long as their bodies would let them go.
Reed has been more than an interception machine in his tenure. He’s been one of the more brutal hitters in the defensive backfield, and more than one of his nine forced fumbles have been due to hitting his man so hard the ball popped loose. The impinged nerve he suffers from is will only worsen with more collisions. His body will continue to suffer, and the more he plays, the more likely he is to suffer the long term effects.
Reed is a terrific character off the field. He’s accomplished a lot in this game, and has little left to prove. He belongs in the Hall, and should be rewarded in the Ring of Honor some day. He should leave the game with his head held high.
And he should leave with his body as in tact as humanly possible.