NEW ORLEANS — There is a longstanding joke around Gillette Stadium: If you want to see Bill Belichick gush, ask him about Ravens safety Ed Reed. And it’s not a joke just among media members; Tom Brady once quipped that Belichick was going to kidnap Reed and make him his son, “Ed Belichick.”
The 34-year-old Reed is slated to become a free agent after this season, and assuming he wants to keep playing — he has wrestled with the idea in recent years — it’s hard to think Belichick won’t make a run at signing the object of his affection.
The Patriots, though, could have stiff competition from Chuck Pagano, who left his job as Baltimore’s defensive coordinator before the 2012 season to become head coach in Indianapolis.
Asked what kind of relationship he has with Belichick, Reed said it isn’t much, but he truly respects Belichick.
“Man, I have so much respect for coach and what he’s about: his discipline and his structure of what he has, just how he came about being a coach, military background and everything,” Reed said. “I read his book [‘Education of a Coach’].
“Just so much respect for coach. How could you not? You won championships. How could you not respect a man for what he’s had or what he’s done?”
During “A Football Life: Bill Belichick,” the documentary that followed Belichick during the 2009 season, Belichick and Tom Brady are shown in Belichick’s office as the Patriots are preparing to face Baltimore, with both saying again and again how good Reed is. Brady talks about a play the offense could run, one aimed at putting Reed in no-man’s land and unsure of where the quarterback might go with the ball.
Not only has Reed watched the documentary, other NFL teams apparently have, too.
“Everybody, every team run the same play [against me] that they talked about on there,” said Reed. “It’s funny.
“But I just took it out of respect and they understand football and they understand players. Going against those guys is always great, playing against coach Belichick and Tom.”
Also on Wednesday, Reed clarified a remark he made during Media Day Tuesday when he said the late Junior Seau probably had no regrets.
“When I said I know he doesn’t have any regrets, I was talking about football — not the fact the man passed away and lost his family,” Reed said.
“People tend not to write everything, and that’s the bad thing about our business. No disrespect to his family. I think the utmost of Mr. Seau and his family, man, with all due respect.”
The spray lingers
With the Sports Illustrated story linking Ray Lewis to an Alabama-based supplement company (for the second time in two years) still a prominent topic, Lewis, Baltimore coach John Harbaugh, and Ravens players were all asked about it Wednesday.
Lewis said he is “agitated” by the story as opposed to angry.
SWATS owner Mitch Ross told SI that Lewis called him shortly after tearing his right triceps in October, looking for something to help him recover from the injury faster. Among the products SWATS sells is deer antler spray, which has a high concentration of IGF-1, an insulin-like growth factor banned by all professional sports leagues in the US as well as the NCAA.
Harbaugh said Lewis “kind of laughed and told me there’s nothing to it,” when the two discussed the story.
While Lewis called Ross’s claim “a joke” and “a trick of the devil,” he insisted, “I never, ever took what he says.”
That could very well be a true statement, as a doctor from Johns Hopkins University told the Baltimore Sun that injections are the only successful way to administer IGF-1, not by pills or sprays.
Also, the NFL’s drug testing does not include blood sampling, only urine, and the growth factor would not show up in urine.
A 49ers player has also made headlines for the wrong reason. During a radio appearance Tuesday, cornerback Chris Culliver was asked about potentially having a gay teammate, and Culliver responded in part, “I can’t do the gay guys, man . . . I can’t be with the sweet stuff. Nah, can’t be in the locker room, man.”
Not only has San Francisco long been one of the most gay-friendly cities in the country, the 49ers organization supports the community, with several players recently participating in a video as part of an anti-bullying campaign for LGBT teens.
The 49ers released a statement Wednesday saying they reject Culliver’s comments and “there is no place for discrimination within our organization at any level. We have and always will support the LGBT community.”
Later Wednesday, Culliver released a statement of apology that said in part, “The derogatory comments I made were a reflection of thoughts in my head, but they are not how I feel. Those discriminating feelings are not truly in my heart. I pledge to learn and grow from this experience.”