With 12 career return touchdowns, Ed Reed has earned a reputation for being a tough man to get a grasp on.
And this offseason, far from a football field, the Ravens safety has been equally as elusive when it comes to his playing status. Reed wiggled away again Wednesday night.
Appearing on Baltimore radio station 105.7 The Fan, Reed, whose cryptic comments on Twitter over the weekend have been scrutinized by national media and curious fans, was noncommittal about his status for the upcoming season. He is physically prepared to play an 11th NFL season, but insists he is "still thinking things through." He is slated to report to training camp July 25, but he eluded to the possibility of a holdout.
"The only way we protect ourselves, … the only way a player gets what he wants is by holding out," Reed said. "So if Ray Rice doesn't show up, so be it. If Joe Flacco didn't show up and got a contract, so be it."
The Pro Bowl safety's status for training camp came into question when he skipped the team's three-day mandatory minicamp in June without calling coach John Harbaugh beforehand to provide an explanation. He joked on Wednesday that he didn't attend minicamp because he couldn't find anybody to cut his grass, which was a nod to a message he sent Saturday on Twitter.
"Back home with my son, he's riding his bike [and] I'm doing yard work! Tell the bosses I'm comfortable!" wrote Reed, who also posted a picture of his lawn and his young son's bicycle.
Reed, who has also mentioned retirement during the previous two offseasons, is in the final year of the six-year contract extension he signed in 2006 that made him the highest paid safety in the NFL.
If he plays in 2012, he will earn a base salary of $7.2 million. It is believed that Reed is frustrated by the lack of another extension, though he has not made any public demands. He sidestepped around questions about his contract status in the interview, though he did say he has outplayed his current deal and "exceeded all expectations."
"I've been working out this whole offseason, but there's other things that are more important to me like getting my son out of his car seat right now to go play golf," said Reed, who had just arrived at a golf course only to discover that it might be closed. "That's more important to me."
Reed, who mentioned that the NFLPA "messed things up" last summer when negotiating the new collective bargaining agreement, feels he needs to stick up for players around the league.
Reed was mostly upbeat throughout the interview. He hummed along with Michael Jackson's "Beat It" when he was introduced. He interrupted to tell his son to get his golf bag out of the car. And he talked at length about his annual football camp, which will be held Monday and Tuesday at Stevenson University. He also seemed to really enjoy side-stepping any tough questions.
Asked what he would be doing when the season started, Reed told 105.7 host Glenn Younes, who also serves as the director of Reed's foundation, "Watching Sunday and Monday night football on my sofa, man, and watching these guys play some real good football."
Reed started every game for the Ravens in 2011. He made 52 tackles and intercepted three passes during the regular season. His 57 career interceptions are tied for 11th all-time, and he remarked he would like to catch the NFL's career interception leader, Paul Krause, who has 81.
Reed acknowledged that he and the Ravens could eventually part ways, but said he "loves" Baltimore.
"Baltimore has done me good," he said.