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The Suburbanite
  • Future Hall of Famer Ed Reed still not sure why college coach passed on him

  • Ed Reed should have no trouble getting to Canton, but there was a problem with getting him to Cleveland, and neither he nor a few million Browns fans will ever understand why.

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  • One of the great players in Super Bowl XLVII is Ed Reed.
    One of the great mysteries for one of the few teams that has never been to a Super Bowl is why the Browns didn’t draft him.
    We asked Reed about this Thursday during a stop at his — and his team’s — downtown hotel, the Marriott.
    “Hey,” he said, throwing up his arms. “There were 23 teams that passed on me. You never forget that.”
    On a sunny day along the Mississippi River, Reed was alluding to the fact he drifted to the No. 24 overall spot in the 2002 draft. There, Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome caught himself a Hall of Fame safety.
    What made Newsome, a Hall of Famer himself based on a career on Lake Erie, so smart?
    How could the teams drafting in front of Baltimore have preferred the likes of Donté Stallworth (No. 13, Saints), Ashley Lelie (No. 19, Broncos) and Napoleon Harris (No. 23, Raiders) to the trend-setting safety Reed became?
    “I always said, ‘They don’t like UM guys,’” Reed said.
    Reed was referring to a certain disdain for the “swag” exhibited by University of Miami players, of which he was one.
    But wait a minute. Butch Davis, the Browns head coach who passed on Reed, WAS “a UM guy.”
    “I know,” Reed said.
    He would. Reed was recruited to Miami by Davis. He played for the Hurricanes from 1998-2001, the final year under Larry Coker, after Davis took the Cleveland job.
    He helped Davis GET the Cleveland job.
    Yet, Davis turned a thumb down on Reed in favor of a Boston College running back with a troubled past, William Green.
    It turned out Green also was headed into a troubled future. His only meaningful NFL contribution came as a rookie, when his long touchdown in a playoff-clinching game prompted a memorable Jim Donovan radio call: “RUN, WILLIAM, RUN.”
    Green soon ran into trouble and out of gas. Reed busied himself running interceptions back for touchdowns. One time, he ran one back from his own end zone to Cleveland’s, setting an NFL record.
    Now he is in his 11th year, a cog on a Super Bowl team. It’s likely a matter of when, not if, he will be giving an induction speech in Canton.
    There is something chafing about that Miami “swag.” Another former Miami safety, Earl Little, wore it like a badge in Cleveland’s locker room.
    Little didn’t even realize he was sounding arrogant and slightly out of touch when he talked about how players flocked to Miami for its superior football and culture.
    Yet, Davis, of all people, surely should have been one to look past this minor annoyance, in Reed’s case, anyway.
    Page 2 of 2 - He didn’t. For some reason, he became convinced that his desire to get an impact running back would be satisfied by Green, and that he was reasonably well set at safety, partly because Little was in place.
    It wasn’t as if Davis shunned his former Miami players.
    It became a bit of an inside joke among some Browns players that Davis had drafted running back James Jackson, offensive lineman Joaquin Gonzalez and wideout Andre King. They were as much Davis’ former Miami players as Reed was.
    Reed, though, was an ex-Hurricane who might actually have saved Davis’ Cleveland career.
    Soon enough, Davis would go fishing for safeties. In 2004, when Reed was on the rise in Baltimore, Davis spent a second-round draft pick on safety Sean Jones.
    Poor Jones. His rookie year got wiped out by a spring-practice collision with Dennis Northcutt.
    Poor Davis. With five games left in the 2004 season, he resigned.
    Poor Reed? Not exactly. He is one of the richest football players to have grown up in New Orleans. He is in a Super Bowl in New Orleans.
    He is wondering, like everyone else. Why DIDN’T Butch Davis pick him in the 2002 draft.
    “I never knew,” Reed said on his way down a Marriott hallway. “I never knew.”