As Ed Reed prepares to take his place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, teammates, friends and coaches from his Ravens, college and high school years reflect on the legacy of the legendary Ravens safety with their favorite memories and never-before-heard stories.
As told to Glenn Clark
Chuck Pagano was the Ravens’ defensive backs coach from 2008-2010 and defensive coordinator in 2011. Pagano was also the University of Miami’s defensive backs coach during Reed’s first three years.
Back at Miami, when he came in and Reggie [Wayne] came in, we started to rebuild that program — because we got there in ’95 and they put us on probation, if you remember. So three years of probation, we lost 31 scholarships over three years. We did well ’95 to ’96 because we still had enough players left, but we hit rock bottom in ’97. I think we went 5-6 and we started getting all those players to come. They recruited each other and said, “Hey, we’re going to change this thing. We’re going to get this thing back the way it used to be and change the culture.”
But I remember one of the games against Penn State, we were starting to climb back and get that thing turned around. We’re playing them at home [in 1999] and we’ve got the lead and we’ve got the ball down in their territory, on their side of the 50, I believe. Kind of outside of field goal range and we’ve got a fourth-and-1, and we go for it. I can’t remember whether it was Najeh [Davenport], who the runner was. But we thought he got it, [but] they didn’t give him the first down. So they get the ball back. And they end up beating us — they throw a bomb to [Chafie] Fields. He was No. 2. Eddie was the post safety and Mike Rumph was the corner. Mike was playing that game with a cast on his hand — he had broken a hand, so he had basically one hand that was a club, and so they went up top on him once they got the ball back. Ed was in the post and they end up beating Mike, got it over the top, he tried to make a play on the ball and the kid caught it and ran it in for a touchdown. But Ed was in the post, and the lesson that Ed learned after that game was he broke on the ball, but it’s like he broke not like the typical Ed Reed with the range and all the ground that he could cover. He thought Mike was going to make the play. And then he goes, “Holy shit, the kid caught the damn thing.” He changed gears and he couldn’t catch up. It wasn’t a loaf, but after the game he publicly — to the media, the team, this, that and the other — he said, “I didn’t break full speed. I thought Mike was going to make that play, and had I broken on that play and gone full speed the whole way, I would’ve gotten him on the ground before he scored. We would’ve lived to play another down. I swear to you, I promise to our players and myself, I will never, ever do that again.”
That’s one of the lessons that he learned early in his young career, which led to  interceptions, which led to every team that ever had to play that guy — all the quarterbacks, all the teams that I was on: “Do not throw it anywhere near No. 20. Make sure you know exactly where the kid is. Make sure you know where 20 is and do not throw it up for grabs, because he’s going to go get it.” And after that game he said, “I promise myself and I promise this team that I will never, ever not take a play off but not break full speed and think that, ‘Hey, this guy’s going to make that play.'”
To read more memories of No. 20, visit PressBoxOnline.com/Reed.
Photo Credit: Sabina Moran/PressBox
Issue 255: June/July 2019