The University of Miami football program prides itself on producing a winning culture, competing with any program in the nation and, of course, playing with that South Florida swagger. From Ted Hendricks to Shaq Quarterman, Alonzo Highsmith to Jonathan Vilma and Michael Irvin to Dan Morgan, The U has produced leaders of the game throughout its illustrious career. Few are more beloved, candid, respected and accomplished like former two-time All-American Ed Reed.
Now in retirement, Reed is enjoying a renaissance like no other former player. Recently named to the College Football Hall of Fame’s 2018 class during the National Championship Game in January, this year will also mark the first time that Reed will be a candidate for the Pro Football Hall of Fame when the ballots are delivered to voters this fall. Reed has been an All-American, an All-Pro and won both a National Championship (2001) and a Super Bowl (XLVII). Few men have ever accomplished the feat, which helps make Reed one of the most important ambassadors the game has today.
In the latest episode of Undeniable With Joe Buck on the AT&T Audience Network, Reed candidly discusses many pertinent topics that are in sports headlines these days. The two mean touch on head and brain injuries and their impact on football, the prevalence of boosters on campus and how they impact college stars then and now and finally, Reed revisits his first impression and interaction with Baltimore Ravens head coach, John Harbaugh.
It did not go quite as planned for either side.
Brain Injuries and Self-Preservation
Reed: When you get to the NFL, you get to understand that it stands for Not For Long [...] because they know what you’re going to go through. They know what we go through and they still not taking care of us. They know what we go through and they still giving us a hard time. They know what we go through and they still full of crap, to some degree. It’s a lot of great things we do in the league, don’t get me wrong. I love my league, I love the fact that it was established. They gave young black kid, a kid, an opportunity to better himself in this country. And I would do it again, with everything I know about the sport.”
To hear this from a future Hall of Famer helps promote a game that, according to University of North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora, is under attack. Based on the fortune, quality of life and overall experience that a man such as Ed has been able to enjoy, it sounds as though the benefits of football supercede the pitfalls that are associated with what feels like a lifetime having played the sport.
Buck: How important was winning a national championship for the Miami Hurricanes to you?
Reed: That’s why I went there. Graduate, national championship. Four years I graduated. My senior year, if I come back, which I already knew [...] I had one class, and all I can do is play football. I have friends in the league, so finance is not a problem, if I needed it. Nobody in here is stupid, too. Y’all know as well as I know that sharks — they’re everywhere around the NCAA. So if you need it, trust me you can get it. If you’re any kind of player they pay for you, they give it to you. [...]I wasn’t taking it, though. Alright, maybe one time. I needed a flight home.”
The conversation around paying student-athletes is one that will continue to be debated throughout the life of the NCAA itself. Reed did not drop any major bombshell that we didn’t already know or assume was going on across campuses nationwide. Bagmen, outside influences and rogue boosters will continue to be an unspoken staple of college sports until colleges, the NCAA and the athletes who are under-represented are able to come together on an agreement that can be two-faced it too many areas outside of the stadium.
Buck: In 2008, John Harbaugh shows up. Did you know he was the right guy at the right time for this time, or was he?
Reed: I can honestly say no. I can honestly say that it was shaky. Coach Harbaugh came in like it’s my way or the highway and we’re like coach, no, and I still feel that way. Some of the stuff he did and how he handled things I just didn’t agree.
The details of a spat between Reed and Harbaugh in 2008 is fascinating given that Harbaugh was then a young coach who was a special teams coordinator, trying to impose his fingerprints on a team filled with alpha males such as Reed, Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs. Last week, Harbaugh stated how today’s players coming out of college are “not as callused up as they used to be.” In context, Harbaugh went off on a tangent after addressing injuries to a pair of his rookie tight ends in camp. Considering Baltimore’s lack of ProCanes on the current roster, there could be some validity to his observations. Well, that and two-a-day practices essentially being phased out of the league in collective bargaining agreements.
You can watch the entire interview with Ed Reed and Joe Buck that aired on Tuesday, July 31st, at 8PM EDT on AT&T Audience Network.
IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE U!