As the children from his football camp chanted "Don't Reed-tire" on Wednesday, the Ravens' Ed Reed revealed the severity of his hip injury, a dissatisfaction with his contract and a desire to get more support from his team.
Reed, who recently indicated that he is "leaning" toward missing the first six games of the regular season, expressed disappointment in the commitment from the Ravens organization while he recovers from offseason surgery. The six-time Pro Bowl safety called the problems "minor" ones, but he declined to elaborate on them before addressing the team."It's like a marriage," Reed said after supervising drills for six hours at his football camp in Randallstown. "There are going to be disagreements. You've got to work with that person. When it starts to get too much, you got to pull back [and ask,] 'Is it worth it or should I take a pay cut and be on another team?' "
Stressing there is no "ill will" toward the Ravens, Reed said he injured his hip further by returning to play in the postseason last season, a risk that he feels the Ravens haven't rewarded.
"I haven't had the support from the other side as you think has been there," Reed said. "If I don't say it now, it won't ever get said." An NFL source said Reed could be talking about improved communications over his surgery and the extent of that surgery.
One of the top defensive playmakers in football, Reed is three months into a recovery expected to last four to six months, but he insisted that he wouldn't rush back this time.
"Honestly, I probably shouldn't even be playing this year," Reed said.
A Ravens spokesman declined to comment Wednesday on Reed's comments.
Reed told 105.7 The Fan on Tuesday that he is "leaning" toward starting the regular season on the Physically Unable to Perform list, which means he would miss at least the first six games.
A day later at his football camp, it was apparent that Reed was not close to full strength. He limped while jogging and always turned his body cautiously.
Reed confirmed that he would start training camp on the PUP, but he wouldn't say when asked twice by reporters whether he would miss the regular-season opener.
"Like I told my coach, I'm preparing myself to try to come back for that first game," Reed said. "But who's to say it's going to be the first game against the Jets or the first game in October, November for December? I honestly don't know."
Known for avoiding the media during the season, Reed was in a jovial mood Wednesday, laughing several times during a relaxed 20-minute interview with a small group of reporters.
He clarified one issue, saying he didn't approach the Ravens this year about a new contract. Still, Reed continued to express displeasure with his current contract, which has three years remaining (he is scheduled to earn $6 million in 2010, $6.5 million in 2011 and $7.2 million in 2012).
When he signed his six-year contract extension in June 2006, his deal was the highest among all safeties. Now, others have passed him on the pay scale.
"There are six, seven players in front of me [financially] at my position that I honestly wouldn't let hold my jock," Reed said, "and I don't even wear one."
Reed, however, did request a new deal last year.
"The word I got was: 'We're comfortable with where we're at,' " Reed said. "Yes, you would be comfortable with the plays that I'm making on the field and paying me what you're paying me."
Reed's point is that teams can cut underachieving players and aren't required to pay them the rest of the contract (deals aren't guaranteed in the NFL). But teams typically don't give players more money when they overachieve.
He also seemed amazed by how much more a Pro Bowl quarterback makes than a Pro Bowl safety.
"Peyton Manning doesn't sleep when he sees No. 20 going to Indy," Reed said. "But let alone, he's making $100" million."
Reed's focus Wednesday was helping 150 children at his football camp get better on and off the field. Players went through hours of drills and received a couple of talks from Reed.
He spoke about the importance of academics and going to college. He also told them to eat the right foods.
This was the first time that Reed had held a camp in the Baltimore area.
"It's just like building house. You got to build that foundation first," Reed said. "That's what we're trying to do. We're trying to get them while they're young."
Reed didn't resemble the player who talked about retirement after the playoff loss in Indianapolis six months ago.
"I don't want to retire," Reed said.
In fact, Reed said, he could "easily" play another eight to 10 years. Reed, who said he would eventually need surgery for his nerve impingement, will turn 32 in September.
"If it was up to me, I would retire here," Reed said. "Does it always happen? No."
Note: Quarterback Troy Smith took the addition of Marc Bulger in stride, even though it bumped him to No. 3 on the depth chart. "I'm proud to have another teammate," Smith said before helping out at Reed's camp. "He's definitely a good guy. I've been a fan of his for a while. That side of what's going on, I can't control."
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