Considered one of the best big-play safeties in the history of football, Ed Reed was among those announced as part of the 2019 class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.
“The Pro Football Hall of Fame, not just everybody gets in there. There has been great safeties before Ed. It’s not just an open and shut deal and it tells you what type of player he is. It’s rarified air when you get into the Hall of Fame. I think everybody’s always thought he was a shoe-in but I know he knows that there were people that were surprised he got in on the first ballot. It doesn’t happen all the time,” said Scott Martin, Reed’s high school head coach.
Reed becomes the first player from the River Parish area of St. James, St. John and St. Charles parishes to be named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“To be a River Parish guy – to be the first one – I know it means a lot to him. I know Ed’s always been very home-town conscious. He’s one of those guys that’s gone on and set his roots, whether it be in Miami or Baltimore, he’s never forgotten where he’s from. He’s very proud of where he’s come from,” Martin said.
It was part of a big day for Louisiana football. Along with Reed, a pair of LSU Tigers joined the former Destrehan great as part of the Hall of Fame’s 2019 class. Also named were center Kevin Mawae and defensive back Johnny Robinson.
A first-round draft pick by Baltimore out of the University of Miami in 2002, Reed was a leader of a dominant Ravens defense and was a Super Bowl champion.
Reed, who played 11 seasons in Baltimore before concluding his 13-year career with the Houston Texans and New York Jets, finished with 64 interceptions in his career, including returning seven for touchdowns.
He led the NFL three times in interceptions. A nine-time Pro Bowler, Reed returned one of his interceptions 106 yards for a touchdown and another 107 yards. Reed intercepted nine passes in 15 career playoff games.
Reed’s knack for big plays was evident all the way back to his playing days at Destrehan from 1993-96.
“He was absolutely the best high school football player I ever coached in 33 years of coaching,” said Martin, Reed’s high school coach from 1994-96. “He just had a lot of intangibles. He had a great sense for the big play in football. If you look at the statistics of his accomplishments in the NFL and in college, he made so many huge plays for all those teams. When he wasin high school, he made some tremendous plays.”
One of Reed’s most memorable plays in high school came on an interception in a game at the end of the regular season against South Lafourche his senior year in 1996.
“It was at the end of the season. We were going to go to the playoffs but to be the first-place representative, we had to win by more than nine points,” Martin recalled. “We were leading 14-7 and Aaron Smith picked off a ball the last play of the game and as he was running it back, we were saying, ‘get down, get down.’ We would take wherever we were in the playoffs. But Aaron lateralled it back to Ed and Ed took it the whole distance and we ended up winning 20-7 and ended up being the first-place representative in our district.”
Also recalling the incident was Craig Perrier. Perrier played strong safety to Reed’s free safety on the 1996 Destrehan squad.
“They (the South Lafourche Tarpons) were throwing the ball up trying to score. We (the Destrehan defensive backs) had said a couple of plays before that we were telling each other – we were playing four deep safety – ‘keep pitching the ball, keep pitching the ball, we need to score.’ Aaron Smith intercepted it, he pitched it to Edward, and he did the rest.”
Mawae, who played high school football at Leesville and starred at LSU from 1989-93, went on to play 16 years in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks, New York Jets and Tennessee Titans. He was an All-Pro eight times in his career.
Robinson, a product of University High in Baton Rouge, was part of LSU’s first national championship team in 1958.
He played his entire career with the Dallas Texas/Kansas City Chiefs franchise from 1960-71. A three-time Pro Bowler, Robinson ended his career with 57 interceptions.