Cowherd: Ed Reed needs to make up his mind

June 13, 2012|Kevin Cowherd

Here's a big surprise: Ed Reed is driving the Ravens nuts again.

One minute he says he's not 100 percent committed to playing this season. The next minute he says he could play for years.

One minute he says he feels disrespected by the Ravens and questions their loyalty to him. The next minute he says he's open to discussing a contract extension to "help the team."

Don't we go through something like this every year with Reed?

Is this just "Ed being Ed" again?

Maybe. But it's got to be getting old for the Ravens.

And now Reed is a no-show at their mandatory minicamp this week, another slap in the face to his team.

As great a player as he is, his absence shows no respect for Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh. And it shows no respect for Reed's teammates, who are out at the Castle sweating and grinding and getting ready for a new season.

Ray Lewis tried to cover for his buddy the other day by saying Reed's absence was no big deal.

"I don't think it's an issue at all," Lewis said. "Ed has other things going, a baby boy, and he's really trying to focus on things like that. Sometimes, life calls you away from the game."

Well, OK. But John Harbaugh doesn't seem too thrilled that life is calling his Pro Bowl safety to stay home rather than be with his teammates this week.

At Wednesday's post-practice news conference, the Ravens coach said he still hadn't heard from Reed. Which means he still hasn't heard an explanation for why the guy isn't in camp.

But Harbaugh is in an awkward position here.

Privately, he's got to be royally ticked that Reed blew off the minicamp without so much as a phone call to the team.

But he also doesn't want to alienate a moody superstar who has meant so much to the franchiseand is so highly-respected by the Ravens players.

So Harbaugh chose his words carefully when talking about Reed not being here.

"Not to make too much of it, (but) I have tremendous respect for Ed," Harbaugh said. "I've used the word admiration. I'm not worried about Ed being ready. I said a couple weeks ago, I know Ed's going to be working hard and getting himself ready for the season. Any comment beyond that really has no value.

"But I value our friendship, I value our relationship, I value him as a player. And I'm going to plan as if he's going to be here and be ready to go. Whatever's going on, Ed knows how to deal with it."

Is it a contract issue that's keeping Ed Reed away? Who knows?

Sure, his contract is up at the end of the season. But he'll make $7.2 million if he plays this year. Who wouldn't want to have a contract issue like that?

Besides, he's not the only big-name Raven approaching the end of his contract. Forget Ray Rice, who was given the franchise tag as an unrestricted free agent. But Joe Flacco' s contract is up at the end of the season, too.

Still, Flacco was at all the OTAs, showing the kind of responsibility and work ethic you want to see from a team leader. And Flacco was at the minicamp Tuesday before hustling back to New Jersey on Wednesday to be with his wife for the impending birth of their first child.

So now the question is: what are the Ravens going to do about Reed's absence?

They pretty much have to fine him. The collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players calls for no-shows at minicamps to be fined. And the Ravens would lose the respect of the players and look as though they're playing favorites if they let Reed skate on this and don't take his money.

So Reed will probably be fined $63,000 for missing all three practices and another $9,000 for not taking his physical.

OK, maybe that's not such a big deal for a guy making the kind of money Reed makes.

But maybe the bigger question facing the Ravens is this: how much longer will they put up with this kind of nonsense from him?

Sure, you can get away with a lot as long as you're a great player. We all know that. And Ed Reed has been a great player for this team for many years.

He's won Pro Bowl honors eight times, including last season. And he could have another terrific season if he's healthy and if he's motivated.

But those are two big ifs.

The man is 34 now and he's had some significant health issues. And he seemed to shy away from making tackles at certain times last season because of neck and shoulder problems.

But what the Ravens need to know most of all is that Ed Reed still wants to play this game. They need to know whether his head — and his heart — are still in it.

Blowing off a minicamp without even a phone call isn't a good sign.

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

twitter.com/kevincowherdsun

Listen to Kevin Cowherd at 7:20 a.m. Tuesdays on 105.7 The Fan's "The Norris and Davis Show."

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