Ed Reed’s resume is sparkling. Over his 12-year career, Reed played the part of one of the most terrifying safeties in NFL history. He picked off opposing quarterbacks 64 times, with 61 of them coming as a member of the Baltimore Ravens, a franchise record. He also holds the NFL record for the two longest interception returns, taking the football back 107 and 106 yards, respectively. He made the Pro Bowl nine times, and won a Super Bowl. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame earlier this year.
And yet Reed, who joined the Buffalo Bills coaching staff in 2016 as an assistant defensive backs coach only be to relieved of his duties when head coach Rex Ryan was fired after the season, finds himself frustrated with the lack of job offers since.
“It’s very frustrating that they don’t have a lot more (former) players coaching the game,” Reed said.
Reed, who is currently promoting the NFL’s “Tickets For 100 Years” contest, in which a fan can win season tickets to his or her favorite NFL team for the next 100 years, still holds the desire to get back into coaching. He’s currently coaching his son’s flag football team, and Ryan said he sees Reed becoming an NFL head coach one day. As Reed awaits his next opportunity, he spoke to us about his coaching frustrations, the legacy of his Baltimore Ravens and if there’s about to be a changing of the guard in the AFC North.
UPROXX: Tell us a little more about this “Tickets For 100 Years” contest the NFL is putting on right now. A hundred years is a long time to have season tickets.
Ed Reed: You won’t get a better competition than this right here. The person who’s going to win the tickets for the 100 years, it’s one of the most awesome things I’ve ever heard. You can get two tickets for your family, and you can pass it down to generations because that’s what this is about, generational football. The competition is creating a video, doing something unique and creative about yourself being a fan. You’re gonna post it on social networks with the hashtag #NFL100Contests. Just have fun with it. The winner will be announced at the draft. How cool is that?
For me it’s awesome because it actually started on the 14th of this month, and that’s my nephew’s birthday, who plays football. He just turned 13. I coach my son’s flag football team, my dad coached me when I was a kid. So football is definitely something that’s going to be around for the next 100 years.
During your time in Baltimore, I’m sure you met fans of the Ravens that spanned generations.
There’s so many people, so many fans that still go to the game. The best times I had was during training camp my first year in Baltimore when we were out at McDaniels College. After practice, I used to stay after and me and my teammates used to sign autographs for the fans. That was the best times, man, just getting to enjoy the people.
One fan and person who really sticks out to me is Ty Strong. He had some stuff going on when I was playing, so we still keep in contact, he still hits me on Twitter and leaves me messages and gives me encouragement. It’s so many fans, man, that over the years have been so supportive and really appreciate the time that me and my teammates were there.
After you retired, you joined the Buffalo Bills as an assistant DBs coach for a season. What was that transition from player to coach like?
It’s been good. I was coaching my son before I coached in Buffalo. I was more nervous coaching those little kids than I was coaching those grown men. The little kids actually helped me to be a better coach when I got to Buffalo, because I was nervous about that, just from being a player. It definitely helped and prepared me for what I was coming into. Those little kids, they’re just sponges. They help you to develop more patience for the job.
Was it weird being on the other side of it in Buffalo?
It really wasn’t, because you look back at my career, I was known for being communicative with my teammates as well as my coaches. I used go into the office on Mondays and Tuesdays and sit with my coaches, and go over the game plan and watch tape with them and watch them put the game plan in. I used to do the same thing with my teammates at my house. Teammates would come over to my house — DBs specifically, some linebackers — come over to the house and I’d have the station that you’d have at the facility at my house watching film, breaking film down and communicating. Those plays didn’t just happen by mistake. They were studied.
So when I was working in Buffalo, that transition to watching tape, that was easy. Now I’m just breaking it down on certain players, and breaking certain schemes down for our DBs and safeties. I was concentrating on one specific thing, though I was watching everything, for the players.
Football is situational. Everybody is designated to do a certain job. So it was easy for me to transition to being a coach. I actually think I was bred to be a coach first, being that I’m a mentor. I was a mentor when I was in high school. This is stuff I was already prepared for. It’s tough now because you’ve got the coaching tree, the coaching ladder you’ve got to go through, like I didn’t play 12 years.
Has trying to work through the NFL coaching ranks been frustrating?
It’s very frustrating that they don’t have a lot more players coaching the game. They try to pin it on the coaching ladder and stuff like that. The wording that they use to discourage guys, it baffles me. For one, I know every coach ain’t a good coach. I’ve had a lot of coaches in my time and not all of them made good coaches. Just my honesty alone would probably turn them off. I’ve had some coaches really try to hurt my career, like I didn’t play football, like that stuff doesn’t matter at all because you’re coaching now. But that stuff matters. A lot of these coaches let the title get to them.
This upcoming season will be the first since the Ravens became a franchise in 1996 that one of you, Ray Lewis or Terrell Suggs won’t be on the roster. How crazy is that to think about?
I knew it’d be the case at some point. I’m not surprised from an organizational standpoint. That’s just part of the business, man. It’s a tough business if you don’t understand it, if you don’t understand what’s happening. It’s good for Terrell because that’s where he’s from, Arizona, so I’m sure he’s around family and hopefully it will work out for both parties.
What stands out about your time in Baltimore together?
Just the determination we had as players to overcome the adversity that we did over the years, and to finally get over that hill. It couldn’t have happened in a better way than it did for all of us. We had some tough times for a few years there. When Terrell got there, we had a dominant defense, but we didn’t have the team to go the whole way. It took some years and some growth and some maturity on all of our parts for us to get there. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Both your Ravens and the Steelers have run the AFC North for a long time. But the Cleveland Browns are starting to get a lot of buzz with Baker Mayfield and now trading for Odell Beckham Jr. How do you think other teams in the North are looking at the Browns now, a team that’s been permanently in the basement?
Honestly, I know it’s respect, but they’re also looking at the Browns like they’re the Browns until the Browns change that, you know? I talked to Baker Mayfield and the rookies last year about that, even Jarvis Landry, just about the mentality they have in Cleveland. Even the city has it. I was like, as a team, you have to change the mentality. If you have a mediocre, we’re not going to win, we’re only going to three games mentality, then that’s what’s going to happen.
I thought Cleveland should’ve kept somebody on the staff from that staff they had last year, especially on the defensive side. I think the defense was really doing some special things. Obviously the offense was too, but defense wins championships. So it’s going to matter to your coaching staff now, who’s calling those plays, what’s their mentality? That’s going to make a difference in Cleveland,
They got everything on paper, but this isn’t the first time Cleveland has had players on paper. This is not the first time. They actually used to play us really hard. We always had tough games with Cleveland, but it comes down to coaching, it comes down to the players and leadership. Thats why New York let Odell go. It wasn’t so much what he was doing on the field, because when he’s in the game, he’s a threat. But it’s off the field, it’s in the locker room, that stuff is what’s going to matter more for the chemistry of team.