With Super Bowl LV approaching this weekend, who better to talk to than 2012 champion Ed Reed.
Through 12 NFL seasons, Reed earned a reputation as one of the greatest safeties to ever lace ’em up. With nine Pro Bowl appearances and five First-Team All-Pro honors, the Baltimore Ravens legend was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2019.
Reed sat down with The Spun on behalf of Crown Royal to discuss Super Bowl prep, postseason Tom Brady, retirement and more in an exciting interview. Crown Royal’s “Water Break Commercial” will air in some local markets on Sunday night.
The Spun: With the Super Bowl coming up on Sunday, could you run me through what preparation for a game like that is?
Ed Reed: Knowing the uncertainties about the Super Bowl… the big game is different than in-season or even playoff games because you have a lot more going on. So you have a longer halftime, things going on before the game… so you’ve got to be cautious of those things. That’s really the only thing that changes, outside of dealing with family and tickets. The only thing that changes is they add more time to pregame and halftime, so you’re just conscious of those things. But for the most part, your routine stays the same.
The Spun: You’re obviously no stranger to big games with the national championship game back in Miami. How would you compare preparing for that game vs. preparing for the Super Bowl?
ER: Man, they’re different. Those are two different games with two different teams. Mentality is the same on just trying to win a championship. But, college is different. We tried to bring that same mentality over to Baltimore and keeping that focus, so there were some similarities – but just different games.
The Spun: Back in that 2012 playoff year, your Ravens were coming in as the 4th seed – kind of similar to how Tampa Bay’s coming in as the 5th seed this year. What was your mindset going into the playoffs as somewhat of an underdog?
ER: Everybody’s even. You know, it’s the playoffs – we’re both at 0-0. Somebody’s got to win, somebody’s got to go home. We didn’t want it to be us. That was the mentality – it doesn’t matter how you get in the dance, you just want to get in the dance. That was the key to success, just being there. You have to be there to have a chance – it doesn’t matter how you got there. On any given Sunday you can win.
The Spun: Going into that 2012 season, you were entering the final year of your contract. Did you feel any added pressure to get things done that year?
ER: Not at all. My focus… our focus was winning the Super Bowl. From that (2011) AFC Championship, that was my focus the whole time. I honestly wasn’t even thinking about it. I kind of got that out of my head the year before like ‘man, it may not happen.’ But, there was no doubt it was going to happen that last year. The people that know me know exactly what I’m talking about. That was THE focus and we weren’t coming off of it no matter.
The Spun: Do you have a favorite memory from that Super Bowl run?
ER: The confetti dropping, and I was on the winning side of it. That was it. Seeing teammates doing snow angels in the confetti – that was it.
The Spun: Obviously you have tons of playoff experience against Tom Brady, and now he’s heading into his tenth Super Bowl. Did you ever think he’d be playing at such a high level still in 2021?
ER: Yeah I’m not surprised, man. The quarterback position is protected from a physical standpoint than what everybody else goes through – outside of a snapper and a kicker. Those guys can play a long time.
The Spun: Going off that, what went into your retirement decision? Did you ever think you wanted to play longer? (signed one-day contract with Ravens to finish his career in Baltimore).
ER: You know, I wanted to be able to throw the ball with my son. In the latter part of your career, you tend to make business decisions – and that was a business decision deciding not to play any longer. I wanted to be able to physically move around in good health. I had already gone through three contracts and Freddie Gray had just died in Baltimore. Baltimore was just up in a storm of rioting with the stuff going on, so I just wanted to bring some light back to the city.
The Spun: You’re obviously a staple of the Ravens organization. Do you ever regret spending time with other teams late in your career?
ER: Nah, man. It’s a business. Some of my favorite players in history played on other teams. Joe Montana went to Kansas City, Jerry Rice went to Oakland, Peyton Manning was in Denver, Michael Jordan played for the Wizards – it happens. I wasn’t afraid to be a smart business man at a time when it was my chance to make smart decisions. I think I made the right decisions… I learned a lot on Houston, I learned a lot in New York. I wouldn’t change anything about my career.
The Spun: Is there any quarterback you never intercepted that you wish you had?
ER: Yeah, Brett Favre. Brett Favre threw me five interceptions and I dropped them all in one game. I don’t remember exactly what year, but it was in Baltimore, it was a night game and it was cold as s***.
The Spun: You guys had a great defensive unit back during your time in Baltimore. Is there any team today that reminds you of your squad?
ER: We had guys on every level that were truly elite. I really haven’t had the time to sit there and be like ‘this defense reminds me of us.’ But you’ve got a lot of good defenses out here right now, including that one in Chicago… Kansas City and Tampa Bay are playing really well right now. I like what the New Orleans Saints defense is doing down there, too. So you’ve got some exciting defenses out there, but none that remind me of that Ravens defense.
The Spun: You just missed playing on an even better defensive unit. Where do you rank the 2000 Ravens defense all-time?
ER: I wasn’t on that 2000 team that won the Super Bowl, which everyone really compares a lot of great defenses to. You just have so many great teams – you have to go back to Steel Curtain (‘70s Steelers), the ’85 Bears, Oakland had some great teams, Tampa Bay did their thing when (Warren) Sapp was there. It’s kind of hard to compare and say who was better, because no one really talks about how your offense has to help you – your special teams has to help you. Those numbers get a little skewed sometimes. I think the Ravens 2000 defense is damn sure up there because they didn’t have a great offense around.
The Spun: Who do you have in this year’s Super Bowl?
ER: You know, if I go by what my son says – he says Tampa Bay is going to pull it out. I think Kansas City is going to do it, me personally. We’ll see. I’m expecting a good game – it’s a good matchup for a Super Bowl.
You can read more Q&As with prominent athletes and sports media members here.