Thoughts on Ed Reed and retirement

January, 17, 2010
1/17/10
12:00
PM ET
Whether Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed retires is up in the air at this point. Because of health concerns, he said he's going to make a decision soon.

Reed
Reed has a nerve issue in his neck that is painful at times and potentially serious. He's been very smart in the way he plays, because Reed still performs at a Pro Bowl level without putting his neck at risk and trying to make the big hits.

In reporting on Reed the past two seasons, I've come to learn that Reed is a person of depth and very worldly. Football is not the only thing that defines him, and Reed wouldn't hold onto a NFL career because he can.

I think Reed could walk away from the game today and be fulfilled knowing he gave it all that he had. In fact, there's been growing speculation in Baltimore that Reed would retire earlier than expected.

Reed said he is "50-50" on his decision. Probably half of Reed's thinking is that he's still an elite player and wants to try to win a Super Bowl with the Ravens before he retires. The other half is thinking about the neck condition and his family.

How much Reed is putting his long-term health at risk by playing is something that only Reed and his doctors know. All the public knows is there is some degree of risk involved every time Reed, 31, steps on the field.

If Reed no longer feels it's worth the risk, no one can blame him. The NFL and Baltimore would greatly miss his rare combination of smarts and athleticism. But health and family always come first.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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