I love it when some player reportedly "calls me" out.
Apparently, that’s what former Ravens safety Ed Reed did last week. He called me out during a conference call with the Baltimore media last week.
I actually listened to the recording before it got on local radio and heard Reed laughing before he made any comments. In all honesty, I thought the comments were made more out of respect than ridicule.
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Reed and I had a good relationship when he was younger with the Ravens, and it did get a little tense the last few years he was in Baltimore. But it was never any worse than some terse moments I have had with Orlando Brown, Rod Woodson, Rob Burnett, Derrick Mason, Bennie Thompson, Tony Siragusa or Ray Lewis.
I think for a good reporter or columnist to be effective, he has to have a presence in the locker room. When the Ravens first came to Baltimore, the media members used to be able to hang in the locker room. It’s really a tough place to be. It can be harsh. It can be funny, but it is always entertaining.
To develop relationships -- I mean to build strong ties with players -- you better know football and you better be able to talk trash. You have to be able to take it, and you better be able to give it. If not, they’ll eat you up and give you no respect.
You might get your little quotes and stories, but you never really learn the personalities of the players. I loved that give and take. I don’t have as much any longer because I’m a columnist and not a beat writer, but I’ve always had that with the older Ravens, like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.
So during the offseason when I wrote that John Harbaugh would rather have a root canal than bring back Reed, I thought it was a pretty good line. Others took it seriously. I didn’t take it seriously, just like I didn’t when Reed said I was a “wannabe” and still eating “doughnuts.”
Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome thought Reed’s comments were funny, and we laughed about them the next day. I’ve fought with Reed for several years. We traded barbs and insults. He would cuss at me and I would cuss right back. He would stare at me in the locker room and even once told me to never mention his name again. I’d follow him around in the locker room just to irritate him.
We seldom agreed, but we were just competitive people always trying to either hold serve, or gain one upmanship. But I always respected Reed as a football player, and more importantly as a man, because of what he did off the field with young people. We’ve always had that mutual respect because we share that same goal.
So after the game Sunday, I went to the Houston locker room to find my old adversary. Once he came around the corner, we hugged each other, shook hands and started laughing.
“Nice shot you took at me the other day,” I said.
“You know, I couldn’t help myself, I had to get you,” said Reed, laughing. “You know I couldn’t finish without getting you.”
I told him I didn’t expect anything less. We talked about his time in Houston and then Reed talked about how the fans in Baltimore treated him before and during the game. You could tell he was touched, and emotional.
He talked about the introduction when fans chanted his name and how it felt to be back in Baltimore and play again at M&T Bank Stadium.
Our conversation lasted for a few minutes and then we both had to move on. Reed had a plane to catch with his teammates and I had a deadline.
We hugged again, shook hands, and exchanged smiles. It’s a shame he is in Houston because I really can’t get after him any longer.
I owe him one after the conference call last week.