(NEXSTAR) — Ed Reed gave a straight-forward answer when asked what about his preparation set him apart from his competitors to help him become one of the greatest defensive players the NFL has ever seen.
“If I study, it gives me a chance on the test,” Reed said. “How do you get an edge? If I don’t study, now I got to cheat, but you can’t cheat because you can’t rely on the person next to you. Even if they’re a smart person, I couldn’t rely on the safety across (the field), I couldn’t rely on him if he didn’t study film. I didn’t know what he was doing when he got home.”
But he didn’t just study film, strategy and gameplans. He studied those around him, like his longtime Baltimore Ravens teammate and defensive great Ray Lewis.
“He always was coachable,” Reed said of Lewis. “That’s how you’re supposed to be. I learned from the guy, his work ethic.”
Reed joined the Lewis-led Ravens in 2002, one year after Baltimore captured its first-ever Super Bowl title.
In 2013, Reed helped Baltimore reach another Super Bowl — played that year in his home state of Louisiana. The Ravens went on to beat the San Francisco 49ers 34-31.
“I just remember that moment when it was said and done, in New Orleans, in my backyard, where I watched greats play — I was there in 1997 when the Patriots and Green Bay were there. For that to come full circle was like, man.”
Reed said he drew inspiration from others, too, outside of Baltimore and even outside of football. Iconic athletes like iconic Dallas Cowboys defensive back Dion Sanders and NBA legend Michael Jordan.
“That’s probably why I smoke cigars,” Reed joked, referring to picking up the habit from Jordan, who could often be spotted pulling on a cigar.
“That’s how we learn, you learn from the people who came before you, the pavers,” Reed said. “You’re not going to be just like them, none of us are the same. You’ve got to be the best you.”