Former Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed urged Lamar Jackson to minimize his exposure to big hits during a podcast with Kevin Clark of The Ringer, advising the Ravens’ young quarterback to protect himself both in and out of the pocket.
In addition to Jackson, Reed also discussed penalties in the modern NFL and the state of the University of Miami Hurricanes football team, where he is Chief of Staff, during his appearance on Clark’s “Slow News Day” podcast.
When asked which modern quarterback he wouldn’t want to defend, Reed confidently responded, “I’ll defend all of them. I don’t care.”
It’s a fitting response from arguably the greatest safety of all-time, who thrice led the NFL in interceptions and finished his career with the most interception return yards in league history.
When Clark brought up Jackson, Reed first noted that the 24-year-old quarterback has been subject to intense criticism throughout his career.
“That’s just the world we live in, man. You always have people criticizing quarterbacks,” said Reed, adding that “Black quarterbacks in general get criticized harder, so Lamar has to know that.”
20 Years of Jackson?
The Hall of Fame safety had some notes of his own for the 2019 MVP, advising Jackson to protect himself to preserve his career.
“I even give constructive criticism to Lamar, because I want Lamar to play 20 years as Tom Brady is,” said Reed, “I don’t want to see Lamar get a catastrophic injury like the running quarterbacks of our past.”
To illustrate his point, Reed invoked the name of Hall of Famer Randall Cunningham, one of the first successful dual-threat quarterbacks in league history. A litany of injuries, including a torn ACL in 1991, sapped Cunningham of much of his athleticism and forced him into an early (albiet short-lived) retirement after 10 seasons in the NFL.
Reed also referenced former Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton, telling Clark, “I want [Jackson] to win a championship before he becomes like Cam Newton. “As big as Cam was, those hits affected Cam. Those hits caught up with him. That affects your throwing.”
“I’ve always said this: great quarterbacks don’t take hits. Why do you think Tom Brady is still playing and Peyton Manning isn’t?” he asked.
While Brady and Jackson obviously have very different play styles, Brady’s career-long focus on preserving his body and maintaining his health have allowed him to play for a whopping 22 years.
To put that in context, Jackson was just three years old when Brady threw his first NFL pass in November 2000.
Reed also encouraged his former team to do their part in protecting their franchise quarterback, noting that Brady consistently had one of the NFL’s best offensive lines throughout his whole career.
“It ain’t rocket science,” Reed concluded.
Reed Sounds off on NFL Penalties
Known for his hard-hitting, ball-hawking play style, Reed blasted the NFL for a perceived “mentality of softening” football, a sport that he called “brutal” and “rough.”
The nine-time Pro Bowler criticized the NFL for increasing restrictions and penalties on defensive players in recent years.
“I believe the state of football has made defenders timid and not attacking the ball because they don’t want to get kicked out of the game or fined,” he said.
“We know the rules are implemented to help NFL offenses,” said Reed, who insisted, “You can’t take hard-hitting out of football.”
The Super Bowl XLVII champion argued that creating new penalties has made it more difficult for referees to accurately and fairly govern games.
“There’s so many rules that it’s confusing for the referees,” said Reed, “So many flags they’re throwing these days are ridiculous.”