If Anyone Has Earned the Right to Pull a Strahan, It's Ed Reed

Aaron NaglerNFL National Lead WriterJuly 15, 2012

BALTIMORE, MD - JANUARY 15:  Ed Reed #20 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates his interception against  Andre Johnson #80 of the Houston Texans (not pictured) during the fourth quarter of the AFC Divisional playoff game at M&T Bank Stadium on January 15, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

You're Ed Reed. You are, arguably, the best free safety in the history of the NFL. Along with Ray Lewis, you have spearheaded one the best defenses in the league for a decade. You've scored 12 career touchdowns while playing defense and special teams. You're the definition of a difference maker.

You're also an annual pain-in-the-ass for the Baltimore Ravens when it comes to pondering retirement into live microphones and making odd, third-person statements, much like you did when appearing on WJZ-FM in Baltimore recently, when you spoke about your attempt to renegotiate your deal last year: "Did Ed Reed get the respect that he deserves? No, he did not. Am I going to get it? Probably won't. Hopefully he do. If I don't, then, hey, man, I'm all right with me."

Glad you tried to bring it around to first person there at the end, Ed.

As tiresome as Reed's continued attempts at getting the Ravens to restructure his deal may seem to the general public, he was telling what is close to the truth when he told 105.7 The Fan, via the Carroll County Times, "The only way a player gets what he wants is by holding out."

While Reed's absence from mandatory minicamp raised some eyebrows both in and out of Baltimore, no one seriously thinks Reed won't be there lined up at free safety against the Cincinnati Bengals for the first Monday night football game of the year. 

But will Reed attend training camp? That's another story.

I would not be surprised—in the least—if Reed were to skip training camp as a way of protesting his contract status. I also wouldn't be surprised to see him walk through the door after the final preseason game ends and declare himself ready for the season. 

Yes, I would probably kill most NFL players for such behavior, but Reed is one of the rare talents who has done so much and who still produces at such a high level that it would be hard for me to fault such a move. 

Michael Strahan pulled something similar back in the summer of 2007, missing most of training camp while supposedly mulling retirement (but mostly because he wanted to avoid training camp), rolling in just before the start of the season—and then riding off into the sunset the following February with a Lombardi Trophy in his hand after helping the New York Giants beat the almost-perfect New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. 

It wouldn't surprise me at all if Reed had similar designs. 

Who knows—maybe Reed is there in Owings Mills on July 25 and this all fades away into irrelevance. But if Reed does indeed stay away from training camp, be it as an earnest protest over his contract or simply to escape the grind of camp, after everything he has done for that Ravens team and as good as he still is at getting it done on the field—it would be hard for me to fault the guy.