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The last time we saw Ed Reed in a football uniform, he was hoisting the Lombardi Trophy and celebrating his first ever Super Bowl victory.
Now, more than nine months later, Reed could finally return to the football field to strike fear into the heart of any quarterback looking to throw over the middle.
One major difference from past years is that Reed will now be roaming up and down the enemy's sideline wearing enemy colors.
One looming question heading into this game is whether the veteran safety will be healthy enough to actually play. Reed has been trying to recover from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip, but there’s no telling whether or not he feels good enough to go. We can only assume he’ll do everything he can to get out there and mix it up with his former team.
Expect his homecoming to the stadium he helped build to be greeted by Baltimore fans with mixed emotions and ambivalence—albeit a tremendous amount of respect.
Reed himself offered a window into his emotional state leading up to the game in a conference call with local reporters, per Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun:
I always will be a Raven. That's where I was kind of raised in the NFL. I did a lot of growing and we did a lot of special things. That's something that can never be taken away and it never will. There's a lot of love there…
…Just looking at the whole team, it just looks a little different for me, especially being on this side of things, I was looking at it last night like, Wow, this is something that I'm really coaching against my boys…
...It's like playing against your brothers again, while I'm out there coaching, I've been having this feeling for a long time. It's different being here and coming to see my guys, who I've been fighting with for a long time.
Regardless of what Reed says to downplay the situation, emotions will surely be running high for all parties involved, including the fans.