Ed Reed and Aging Warriors We'd Love to See Hang Around
Don't hang them up yet, Ed Reed.
It's hard to find guys like the Baltimore Ravens safety in today's NFL, and who knows if we'll get the chance to witness another player quite like Reed again.
He's just one of the members of a football fraternity of veterans we don't want to see retire—ever.
Their tenacity, gamesmanship and supreme talent has been a pleasure to watch over the years and has set a fine example for the countless players who've followed.
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Ed Reed has defined what it means to be an "elite" safety capable of doing it all since joining the Ravens in 2002.
He's recorded a whopping 548 tackles and has 57 career interceptions.
Reed's a ball hawk, a run-stuffer and everything in between.
Interceptions are drawn to him in critical situations, and no one has been better returning picks than Baltimore's secondary commander.
He's a throwback player that exudes passion, grit and determination and has been a vital facet on one of the most intimidating defenses in NFL history over the last decade.
Reed's appetite for excellence and fiery demeanor was certainly on display in this chilling halftime speech during his time in college with the Miami Hurricanes.
A genuine leader.
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Ray Lewis is the gold standard of NFL middle linebackers. His style of play is spirited, fast and punishing and can't be found elsewhere in pro football.
He emanates leadership vocally and with what he's capable of on the field of play.
A first-ballot Hall of Famer, Lewis has been in the center of the Ravens defense since 1996, and has grown as a defender every year in the league.
Even in 2011, at age 36, playing in 12 games, Lewis tallied 95 tackles with two sacks and two forced fumbles. He's still considered one of the best defensive players of all time.
Stick around, Ray.
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Spikes was the No. 13 overall pick in the 1998 NFL draft and still hasn't sniffed playoff air. He's gone full bore from the opening kickoff to the final gun on many unspectacular teams.
That speaks to Spikes' admiration for the game of football and the type of combatant he truly is.
He's "stayed young" by consistently hitting the weights and has been one of the more visibly bulky linebackers in the NFL for quite a while—his neck resembles a tree trunk.
Spikes has recorded over 1,300 tackles in his distinguished career.
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Driver has been a "warrior" his entire career.
A seventh-round pick out of Alcorn State in 1999, the chiseled Driver diligently worked his way into an explosive Packers offense and became a go-to target for Brett Favre.
Due to physique and workout regimen, Driver has been able to stay productive beyond his years and still contributes to the Aaron Rodgers-led Packers offense of today.
With over 10,000 career receiving yards and 85 touchdowns, it's safe to say Driver's beaten the odds as a late-round draft pick.
His time in the NFL can be defined by this remarkable catch and run.
They simply don't make them like Driver anymore.
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Has any player overcome more than London Fletcher?
The undersized linebacker from Division III John Carroll who went undrafted in 1998 has been the quintessential "underdog" story and has flourished during his time in professional football.
After years of amazing production from his middle linebacker spot, he finally made the Pro Bowl in 2009 and has rightfully been named to it the last two years.
At 5'10'' and 245 pounds, labeled "too small" and "too slow" by some, Fletcher has never been a liability on any defense.
He's accumulated a ridiculous 1,782 tackles during his Hall of Fame career.
Kyle Vanden Bosch
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Vanden Bosch may not be a Hall of Famer, but he's carved out a fine career in the NFL after being selected by the Arizona Cardinals in the second round of the 2001 draft.
Doesn't he exemplify the moral fiber of a University of Nebraska defensive lineman?
He's made plays with a non-stop motor, underrated talented and sharp technique. At 33, he's got a few more years left in the tank and has totaled a respectable 54.5 sacks during his illustrious yet underappreciated NFL tenure.
An impassioned player, Vanden Bosch has been a great role model for young players in this league for many years.