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.
Katie del Carmen Byram
As told to Glenn Clark
Katie del Carmen Byram is the director for development for The SEED School of Maryland, a boarding school in Baltimore that opened in 2008. Ed Reed has been involved with the school since he played for the Ravens and has held an annual Turkey Day since 2011.
We have 400 students, [grades] 6-12 — so he provides 400 Thanksgiving meals every year, and he is here. He has [made it to] all but one because at the time he was with the Texans, I want to say, and he couldn’t be here. That’s the only year he’s missed. He comes out here the Friday before Thanksgiving — because we’re a boarding school and our kids go home on Friday before, not the Wednesday before — and he hands out Thanksgiving meals. So we’re talking the turkey, the gravy, the potatoes, the pie, everything. It’s like two or three bags of food that every student goes home with for their Thanksgiving break. It’s incredible, right? And again, he’s the last person here. … Our kids, there’s a window for them to get picked up. It’s between 2:30 and 6 or 7 o’clock at night. And you can imagine as a sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth grader, being the last kid picked up, but that day, if you’re one of the last kids getting picked up, you’re super lucky because you’re hanging out with Ed Reed and maybe some other people. A lot of other players have been involved with that, and it’s a great community event for us because we get a ton of volunteers that day that of course want to be around him. But he’s totally focused on the kids. He is completely laser-focused.
We have a couple of buses that come to the school that take kids to central locations around Maryland and the rest is carpool. Not only is he getting on the buses to speak to the kids that he knows he won’t see in carpool — a bus doesn’t leave without Ed getting on it and him saying hi to the kids — [but] you have 100 or so cars pulling around and he’s putting the meals in their trunks along with our volunteers and our staff members and whoever else. He’s posing for pictures, signing more autographs.
There’s obviously something about how Ed grew up and his story and the people who sort of supported him along the way that resonates, because when he’s here, he is totally connected with our students and he speaks their language. He knows the challenges that they face. He just wants to be helpful — and he stresses education. As athletic as this man is, he stresses health and the importance of education. The teachers here and the student life counselors, they can say that all day long and it might resonate with some kids, but when Ed says it, you’ve got a much greater chance that someone’s going to listen — a young man or young woman, they’re really going to perk up and listen. So I guess a couple years into him doing this Turkey Day is when we approached them and asked if they would help us fund our first-ever football team, which he did. We were able to buy new equipment and new uniforms and obviously new helmets, new pads, all of these things that made our kids really dive in. Every school needs a hook, you know? Every kid needs something that gets them to school. For some kids it’s music, for some kids it’s drama, for some kids it’s sports, and Ed has been a huge hook for us.
I’ve asked him, “Why do you do it? Why do you make this a priority in your life when we’ve got a million other things going on?” He paused and then he just looked at me and he said, “Because I have to.” To me that means you get an opportunity of becoming a professional athlete or becoming a world-renowned artist, it is obviously talent. It’s obviously work ethic, but there’s some luck. I think that Ed recognizes that. We’ve got some kids that obviously want to play in the NFL or play in the NBA or the WNBA or want to become musicians or whatever. Most of them aren’t, so him coming and saying, “More important than anything is you taking care of your health and you taking advantage of the opportunities around education that you’re getting at this school,” that’s more important than anything.
To read more memories of No. 20, visit PressBoxOnline.com/Reed.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of The SEED School of Maryland
Issue 255: June/July 2019