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. 

Dennis Thurman 
As told to Glenn Clark

Dennis Thurman was a defensive assistant (2002-2003) and defensive backs coach (2004-2007) for the Ravens.

It was early on in his second year when he and Will Demps, who were the safeties starting in Baltimore in 2002, I guess one of the interesting things is they used to play paper-rock-scissors out on the field to see who was going to play strong safety and who was going to play free safety because our safety positions were interchangeable. You had to know both positions … and they would literally be on the field doing paper-rock-scissors to see who was going to line up where on a particular call. I had never seen that done before, but it was something that they started and they enjoyed it and they got used to it and it was their own little thing.

The funny thing about it is that … you didn’t know who won or who lost because both safeties had to know both positions. It was a unique thing they crafted and they brought to the team and to the secondary. I just thought it was different. We didn’t frown on it. It was just like their own thing. They were making plays and they weren’t making mistakes. If it wasn’t broke, don’t fix it.

When you’re up in the press box, you’re looking at everything and you can start to see things before they happen, player movement and whatnot. You were listening to the call because you knew what the call was when Mike Nolan would make the call, and then you would watch the two of them out there playing paper-rock-scissors. And you would soon be like, “What are they doing?” After a while, it was their deal. We never said anything about it. Nobody ever brought it [up]. … We’re going to see who lines up where and whoever loses, whoever wins, they get to line up where they want to and the other guy gets to line up opposite. It was their deal.

To read more memories of No. 20, visit

Photo Credit: Sabina Moran/PressBox 

Issue 255: June/July 2019


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