This week, Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed is holding his yearly football camp for kids at Stevenson University. Though the assembled media present at the camp on Monday certainly wanted to talk about the camp, they also were likely hoping for some comment from Reed about his playing status this season.
Reed didn't elaborate much on that, however. According to Matt Vensel of the Baltimore Sun, when asked about whether or not he'll take the field this year, Reed answered, “My mind is just so far away from what’s about to happen in the fall," preferring instead to discuss his youth camp.
This is on the heels of a radio interview with Baltimore's 105.7 The Fan in which Reed says that NFL players sometimes must hold out in order to protect their interests, that he is still "thinking things through" in terms of playing this year and that he is, in fact, working out and is physically ready to return to the game but not necessarily mentally ready.
All of this seems to point to Reed potentially not showing up for the Ravens' training camp, which begins on July 26, he's already missed OTAs and mandatory minicamp, and though many believe this is a maneuver to wrangle a new contract out of the Ravens' front office, it may be a bit more than that.
Reed has regularly hinted at retirement over the past few seasons. He's 33 years old (he will turn 34 during the season) and already has a Pro Bowl-caliber career to his name. He also had major hip surgery in 2010, the effects of which he likely still feels. But chances are that Reed just simply wants as much time off as possible, and he's absolutely earned it.
In 10 seasons, Reed has amassed 547 combined tackles, notched six sacks, defended 94 passes, picked off quarterbacks 57 times and has scored six touchdowns off of those interceptions. Anything further would simply be icing on the cake—Reed is clearly one of the best (if not the best) free safeties to ever play the game.
If there's anything these career stats indicate, it's that Reed doesn't need training camp. There's little that camp can provide him at this point aside from a potential injury—that, and the opportunity to take on a leadership role and help out younger players learn the Ravens' defensive ropes.
If Reed is truly in football shape, as he claims, then working out on his own and rejoining the team as the season is about to begin should be fine for both sides.
Reed is likely still weighing his options when it comes to whether or not to play this year. At his age, and the fact that he's repeatedly mentioned his family's overall welfare when asked about his future in the NFL, makes it seem like he's debating whether playing or not playing this year would be better for his family.
On the one hand, he'd make more money. On the other, not playing shields him from further injury, which helps his quality of life.
Either way, it appears unlikely that Reed won't play this year, even if he's not 100 percent convinced of that himself just yet. If he misses camp, there's little reason to panic. He's yet to really comment on his NFL future, and he seems to relish in the speculation that this has generated. As such, he has no reason to stop amusing himself just yet.
There will be a time—and it is likely sooner than later—that Reed will no longer be playing in the NFL. This is a contract year for Reed, and though he mentioned earlier this year that he thinks he has four or five more seasons in him, the reality is that he'll likely get a one- or two-year deal from Baltimore to end his career.
But one way to prolong his effectiveness in the league is by not taking any unnecessary risks (i.e. training camp), stay in shape and only take the field when he needs to—when there are actual games to be won.
So don't worry about Reed's absence or his mysterious comments—when the time comes to play, he'll be there.