A “more laid back” Ed Reed said his emotions will be in check on Sunday when he returns to M&T Bank Stadium, this time as a member of the Buffalo Bills coaching staff.
"I'm not playing,” Reed told Buffalo media earlier this week. “The emotions are pretty much even keel for me. But I'm excited. This is a new chapter. It's new for me, and we'll see how it goes."
Reed is in his first season as the Bills assistant defensive backs coach under Rex Ryan, who was with the Ravens for seven seasons while Reed was a player.
Reed said he is looking forward to seeing some old Ravens friends on the field during pregame warmups, and he will surely hear some “Reeeeeeeeed!” chants from the stands even as he wears the blue and red gear of his new team.
"During pregame I'm sure a lot of those emotions will be there,” Reed said. “A lot of those guys I know. … It's gonna be fun. This is a game. At the end of the day this is a game.”
“My job is easy,” Reed said. “I know what my job is to do and that's to get those guys ready.”
Reed's guys include former Ravens defensive back Corey Graham, now a Bills starting safety. It also includes a slew of young defensive backs who get to learn from one of the best who ever played the game. In fact, Ryan has called Reed "The Pied Piper" for the way young defensive backs seem to hang on every word.
For Ravens fans and players alike, seeing Reed wearing the logo of another team might be a little jarring, although he did return to M&T Bank Stadium as an opponent twice in his final season -- first with the Houston Texans, and then later with the New York Jets after the Texans released him.
The ball-hawking safety spent 11 of his 12 seasons with the Ravens and went to the Pro Bowl nine times. He is a near-certain Hall of Famer and remains one of the most popular Ravens of all time. Reed signed a one-day contract with the Ravens in May 2015 so he could officially retire as a member of the Ravens.
Last year, Reed was inducted into the Ravens Ring of Honor, and he will become just the second Ring of Honor member to visit as an opposing coach -- Earnest Byner did so with the Titans in 2008. But, Terrell Suggs said, at least Reed won’t be in uniform.
“It’s going to be kind of weird,” Suggs said. “It’s going to be kind of weird to see Superman in street clothes. I guess he’s Clark Kent now.”
Reed, 37, joked this week that it would take $300 million to coax him out of retirement and back onto the field, but he said at times it’s hard to adjust to not being a player.
“You learn to fight that off," he said. "There's some times when I want to get out there and show those guys a certain technique and show them how to do it -- and I do. But I know how to channel that. I work out. I have a lot of studying I have to do from a coach's perspective, so the transition actually happens easy because you got a lot of work to do. …
"I was no longer a player a long time ago. That's why I retired. So all that's gone. That life is behind me, man. Here I am, Coach Reed."