NFL playoffs: Baltimore Ravens rally around Ed Reed following his brother's disappearance
Friday, January 14, 2011; 11:51 PM
OWINGS MILLS, MD.
In some ways, this past week around the Baltimore Ravens' practice facility felt just like it should during the buildup to a big playoff game against the rival Pittsburgh Steelers. Ravens players spoke of their disdain for the Steelers and, more broadly, for all things Pittsburgh.
But the emotions swirling underneath were far different, as the Ravens, while readying for what promises to be a rugged AFC semifinal Saturday at Heinz Field, grappled with how best to provide their personal support to safety Ed Reed as he dealt with the disappearance of his younger brother, who was reported missing in Louisiana last week.
"We all love Ed," linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "It just hurts to see your teammate going through something like that. We just try to lift him up, make him smile a little bit and just let him know we're here for him. If he ever needs a shoulder to lean on, somebody to talk to, we're here for him."
Reed was awarded a game ball by the Ravens in a touching scene in the locker room after he played in last Sunday's first-round playoff triumph at Kansas City. That game was played two days after Brian Reed reportedly jumped into the Mississippi River after being questioned by a deputy sheriff in response to a call about a stolen vehicle. Authorities called off their search for the missing man after finding shoes and a jacket believed to belong to him, according to reports.
Ed Reed left the Ravens in Kansas City via a private jet and spent Monday in Louisiana with family members, then rejoined the team and participated in practice and meetings Tuesday.
"When you look at the men around our locker room and see how close that drew us, you've heard this cliche many times, but through adversity you really find character," Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said. "You find who's who. And for our team, what they did for Ed this week, what I did for Ed, what all of us did for Ed, that shows a true brotherhood and it shows what a team is all about."
Ravens Coach John Harbaugh said that Reed went about his work in a professional manner this week but that it was clear to everyone around him that he was deeply affected by the ordeal.
"I just think he's been great," Harbaugh said. "He's dealing with a lot, obviously, more than you'd wish on anybody. He's been a real pro. He's been here at work every day. He's been leading. He's been teaching, like he always does. He's getting himself ready to play. But he's carrying that with him, certainly."
It is clear that the Ravens have rallied around their standout safety. Video footage from the postgame locker room last weekend showed Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason telling other Ravens players that Reed was "a true champion" for putting aside the pain of his brother's disappearance to play against the Chiefs. Mason told Reed that the game ball was for him and his family. Reed took the football that was tossed to him by Mason, grasped hands with Harbaugh and appeared to choke back tears as he told his teammates about his brother's love for football.
Harbaugh said later in the week: "I think everybody has a part in dealing with that. You're on a team. We deal with things and we go through things. We've got relationships on a team. I think everybody gets involved to whatever extent they have a relationship with that person, to different degrees. I'm a part of that as much as anybody. It's always a team thing."
According to reports by New Orleans-area media outlets, Brian Reed reportedly had been seen with a car matching the description of a stolen vehicle. Karen Reed, the mother of Ed and Brian, told media outlets that the car belonged to another family member, and she reportedly acknowledged that Brian had previous problems with drugs and alcohol. Authorities did not identify the man who jumped into the river, but family members told media outlets they believed it was Brian.