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. 

Mike Nolan 
As told to Glenn Clark
Mike Nolan was the Ravens’ defensive coordinator from 2002-2004.

In the draft meetings, there were three safeties that we talked extensively about that we would possibly take with the first pick if they were there. One of them was the kid from Oklahoma, that big safety that went to the Dallas Cowboys, Roy Williams. Now, Roy was going to go very high to begin with, so we didn’t think he’d make it to us. Nonetheless, we compared Roy to Ed to [Washington State safety Lamont Thompson]. We compared all three. I remember it was a big meeting because I think it was on Ozzie’s mind pretty heavy about who he was going to take. … He was the last guy to speak, but Ozzie said, “This is the order we’re going to take them.” And I remember he put Ed up there first and a lot of people thought, “Ah, no, it’s got to be Roy. It’s got to be the other guy.” And he says, “Nope, this is the guy.” 

He was so instinctive. He was so one-step-ahead all the time that he was just calm and relaxed. It was almost like somebody who knows what’s going to happen, so they don’t have a worry as opposed to someone who’s got it all figured out. He was just like, “Hey, I’ve been here before, just no big deal, I’m going to pull this off, no question.” 

He was willing to do whatever you asked him to do. It was just a matter of you had to tell it and otherwise he was going to go with his instincts, which, a lot of times you’d rather have him do that. He and Ray [Lewis] both were the same way. You don’t really overcoach those guys. If they’re on, they’re on, and you just kind of leave them alone.

To read more memories of No. 20, visit

Photo Credit: Sabina Moran/PressBox 

Issue 255: June/July 2019


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