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Ed Reed's homecoming
Childs Walker: Ed Reed has long intrigued me more than any other Raven.
In this age of ESPN, Twitter and Deadspin, it's hard for a star athlete to retain a mystique. But Reed has, in part because he eschews most interview requests, in part because he plays his position unlike anyone else in NFL history, in part because his humor and wisdom come from uncommon angles. After last year's playoff loss to the Patriots, as other players expressed dismay or defiance, Reed sang Teddy Pendergrass.
For our season preview, I wrote about him and Ray Lewis approaching the respective ends of their careers.
I was lucky to catch Reed on a day when he wanted to talk. We covered injuries, fatherhood, retirement, contract negotiations, mentoring, John Harbaugh, you name it. His answers sometimes circled back on themselves, but none felt like blow-offs. This was a serious guy offering serious contemplation.
It was genuinely pleasing to see his joy five months later when the Ravens secured a trip to New Orleans to play in the Super Bowl. Reed grew up in Saint Rose, La., about 20 miles from the French Quarter, so for him, it wasn't just a long-awaited chance to play in the biggest game. It was a homecoming.
I went to his hometown the Wednesday before the game and listened to his mother, his mentors and his coaches describe the roots of his unique personality and incredible talent. It turns out Reed was always a confounding, mesmerizing, soulful, amusing guy who could do things no one had ever seen done on an athletic field.
He will probably always be something of a mystery. But when Reed talked about leading a second line parade through downtown New Orleans after the Super Bowl victory, I got a big smile on my face.
In that moment of collective elation, he was still the most interesting guy in the room.
February 3, 2013