Notice how Ed Reed's left hand is resting gently upon Ray Lewis's shoulder. This picture was taken during last year's AFC championship game.
To me, there is no greater display of team unity than the two leaders of the vaunted Raven's defense leaning upon each other in times of need.
The first person ever mentioned when asked the question, "which Baltimore player would you interview if you were given the chance," is almost always Ray Lewis. It's not that I wouldn't jump at the chance to do exactly that.
It just comes down to a personal choice. I believe that although Ray-ray is the heart and the face of the Raven's franchise, Ed Reed, the captain of the defensive backs and perhaps the single best safety in the NFL today, is often overlooked when it comes down to who people want to interview.
Just like he was overlooked for the Defensive Player of the Year award last season.
Well If I was given the chance to interview Mr. Reed, which would be about the best present someone could ever give me, this is along the lines of how it would go.
Interviewing Ed Reed
Me: A pleasure to meet you Mr. Reed, it's been an honor to watch you play for the Baltimore Ravens for the past seven seasons. I have been given the great pleasure of interviewing you for BleacherReport.com.
ER: Thanks, you can call me Ed.
Me: Ok, Ed. Shall we get right down to the questions?
ER: Sure, fire away. Uh.. what was your name again?
Me: Michael, sorry about that. Sometimes I just get a little bit flustered when I'm in the presence of a hometown icon.
ER: Ha ha, it's alright. I love playing for Baltimore and have been blessed to play with so many great athletes, especially on the defensive side of the ball. It's not just me, you know.
Me: Yeah, I noticed. Well I don't want to take too much of your time, so I'm going to dive right in.
1. First of all, I took a look at your game statistics last season and was just staggered by it all: 41 tackles, 16 passes def., 9 int., 1 sack, 1 fumble and 2 TDs . Why is it, at least in your opinion, do you believe you were snubbed for the AP Defensive Player of the Year award?
ER: Honestly, I don't really pay attention to those kind of things. Anyone who is playing in the NFL today has won a bunch of awards along the way. It's just up to some vote that I don't understand to decide who deserves the award in any given season.
Me: Understandable, I just don't see how you didn't even finish second in the voting.
ER: The guy wasn't even drafted and look at where he is today. He's considered one of the best defensive ends in the league and showed his big-play ability in the Super Bowl. He deserved it.
Me: I think that's just being incredibly humble but yeah, maybe he does deserve 'some' recognition for all the hard work he's put in. It's just hard for me as a Ravens' fan to come to terms or even acknowledge anything coming out of the Steel City.
ER: Ha ha, yeah, I get it.
Me: okay, let's move on to the next question.
2. Often when people think of the Baltimore Ravens, the first person to come to mind is Ray Lewis, your close friend and one of the best LBs of all time. He is often mentioned as the heart and soul of the franchise, how do you feel about that?
ER: Well, again, I can't say that Ray doesn't deserve all that he has gotten. Think about how he entered the league. He comes from the same college as I did and was also picked in the first round.
The major difference is that he was considered a high risk draft-pick, a ton of people said he was either too small or too slow to play in the NFL.
Now look what he has become. Now people are saying he is getting slower. I think, if anything, he's just getting bigger and stronger. I'm glad that I don't have to play against him and even happier that he decided to re-sign during free-agency.
As for being the heart and soul of the franchise, I don't think anyone of us is exactly that. We work as a team and we win and lose as a team. Without him and the rest of our incredible defensive line/linebackers, we wouldn't have nearly as much success.
Me: I totally agree. His entire career he's been scrutinized and told that he was just not fit the prototypical mold of a middle LB. That didn't change a thing, just look at his incredible production.
Even at the age of 34, look at his production last year: 117 tackles, 9 passes def., 3.5 sacks and 3 int.
ER: Yeah, he just turned 34! His birthday was May 15, I think we're supposed to go out and celebrate sometime this week.
Me: What do you guys think your gonna do to celebrate it?
ER: It's all up to him. Personally, I'm probably just gonna take him out to eat somewhere, spend some time just hanging out and talking about things other then football.
Me: Sounds good. Let him know that I said happy birthday and that I'm glad he came back to Baltimore. Anyways, let's move on.
3. Before you were drafted 24th out of the University of Miami in 2002, you were born and raised down south. Whether it was in Louisiana, where you were first named to the All-State team, or in Florida, where you won a National Championship with the Hurricanes, all you ever knew of the country was living in the south. How is it different living up here, near the Eastern Shore and straddling the Mason-Dixon line, far away from the only home you've ever known?
ER: Actually, it's not 'that' different. The adjustment period wasn't too long, Miami was just a lot warmer but still was near the shore. I spend a lot of time just working on extending my professional career by training and watching film-sessions so I don't usually go sight-seeing, except for our annual team trip to Ocean City.
Me: That's right, now I remember, some good friends of mine actually do the catering for you guys, the barbecue stand, while you all are up 50 in Ocean City.
ER: Really? That's crazy, I never really thought about who did the team's catering. Anyways, I really like it up here. It doesn't really get too hot or too cold throughout the season, which helps us stay consistent on the field.
Me: Yeah but at the same time, wouldn't harsh weather, either like the burning hot sun of Miami or the near polar temperatures up in Buffalo, actually be helpful? Kind of like home-field advantage.
ER: We don't really need the weather to give us an advantage.
(At this point, Ed Reed smiles widely.)
We've got you guys, perhaps the loudest and most devoted fans in the entire world.
Me: I know, we're pretty loud and according to other team's fans, obnoxious. We don't play when it comes to cheering on our team. Sometimes you just feel like you can actually affect the play single-handedly with your voice.
ER: Two things. One, keep up the good work. We really appreciate yo guys each and every game. Two, you should encourage your friends, the guys sitting in your section, to at least try to limit yourselves while the offense is on the field. Joe's just a rookie, you know?
Me: You got it. Anything for you, Ed. Alright, moving on.
4. You have been a part of some of the best defenses ever to grace the NFL. You have practiced and played with Chris McAllister, who left the team this year and Samari Rolle, both of which have been and perhaps still are great NFL corners. If anyone in the league knows talent in defensive backs, it would probably be you. How do you see the Baltimore corners and safeties shaping up this off-season and of all of them, which player or players do you think will be the most productive?
ER: This is a very difficult question to answer, Michael. First of all, I am just like any other player in the league. C-Mac is still capable of playing at a very high level, I was just as sad as the rest to see him leave the team.
Samari is a good friend and a great player, I think that as long as he doesn't get injured, he's still got a lot to offer on the field and in the locker room.
As for our current roster of defensive backs, I really enjoy watching Fabian Washington on the field. He always seems to play with a chip on his shoulder and makes up for his lack of size and height with excellent quickness and recovery speed.
If he continues to work on his tackling and learning the playbook, he will certainly be a great asset to the team this season.
The rest of our defensive backs are athletic, young and willing to learn. Besides myself, I am excited about Dawan Landry returning to the starting lineup.
Hopefully his injury will be a thing of the past, allowing him to continue his productive career. If not, we have great depth at safety, even with Leonhard deciding to go to the Jets.
I'm also glad we signed Domonique Foxworth. He is extremely talented and his world-class speed and excellent coverage skills will hopefully mesh well in our defensive scheme.
Chris Carr, signed from Tennessee will hopefully be an upgrade from recently-released corner Corey Ivy...at least in coverage.
Even if he doesn't pan out in the nickel and dime packages, his Pro Bowl talent returning kick-offs and punts will certainly provide a boost to our special teams.
Me: Wow. You sure had a lot to say about the current and former Baltimore defensive backs.
ER: Yeah, I guess you can say I'm very passionate about my teammates.
Me: Well, I think that's all the time we have today, I can't thank you enough for helping us answer a few questions, Ed.
ER: Not a problem, Michael. Good luck with your website.