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Ed Reed's latest return to Baltimore will probably feel a little bit different this time

Pro FootballFootballBaltimore RavensHouston TexansNew York JetsEd Reed

It seemed a fitting farewell for a Ravens icon who was walking out of M&T Bank Stadium one last time.

Back in September, after Ed Reed played what we all thought would be his final game in Baltimore as an active player -- albeit as a member of the visiting Houston Texans -- the fans that had cheered his name for a decade said goodbye in a touching manner that the future Hall-of-Famer safety seemed to savor.

I’ll never forget the scene, hundreds of fans lining up three rows deep after a blowout Ravens victory so they could show their appreciation for all the thrills and chills he gave them. Once Reed navigated a gauntlet of old friends and jogged toward the tunnel, the fans chanted “Reeeeeeed!” while the bearded ballhawk, looking a bit odd in white and blue, raised one first before disappearing into the darkness.

It was one of the most memorable scenes I have witnessed in my time on the Ravens beat, the conclusion of a love affair between Reed and his adopted city of Baltimore.

“That's something you cherish as a player,” Reed said when I asked him about the moment after the game. “Not everybody gets that welcome when they come back."

I doubt anyone thought then that Reed would be back again at M&T Bank Stadium nine weeks later as a member of the New York Jets. But after the Texans released him and the Jets signed him this week, Reed will play against the Ravens once more. Next Sunday, it will feel like déjà vu, though I’m not sure Reed will get the same reception.

Reed is still revered here, though it seems there is a small, vocal sector of the fan base that wants to see him fail, as if to validate the Ravens’ decision to not re-sign him this offseason. “In Ozzie we trust,” they say, gleefully pointing out that the Ravens got his best years, like someone looking at old photos of one of their exes on Facebook.

Reed still had a little left in the tank last season when the Ravens won the Super Bowl, but he has no interceptions in seven games this season and made just 16 tackles for the Texans, who eventually benched him before releasing him.

The memories that will last, though, are the ones he made while terrorizing quarterbacks here in Baltimore.

I’m guessing Reed will still be cheered by the larger, more appreciative sector of the fan base next weekend -- and rightfully so. But it may feel awkward this time around, with Reed now in No. 22 in green and white. We are used to seeing Reed do things his way. Yet there he will be, a role player for the Jets after being dumped by the Texans.

The fans gave him that perfect send-off last time. What can they do for an encore? I’m sure they will try their best, but bumping into him again will probably feel a little strange.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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