I miss Baltimore. I miss crab cakes and the Inner Harbor. I miss the weather. I miss nights out along the water. I miss the basketball leagues. And I miss the football.
I was never a big Baltimore Ravens fan. (I grew up a Bills fan and I’m sticking with them, especially now that things might finally turn around.) But living in that city for as long as I did? You start to understand the love. There’s no NBA team. The Orioles haven’t historically been great, at least recently. And the Ravens? They’ve been so good for so long, and have created such a strong identity, that you couldn’t help but love them. Walk around the city in anything but purple and black and you’ll feel out of place.
A lot of that starts with Ed Reed. The football legend is one of the greatest defensive players of all time and will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Along with Ray Lewis, Reed defined a decade of Ravens football. Hard-nosed. Smash-mouth. He was a monster in the secondary. But now? He’s retired, and Baltimore is entering a new day with players like cornerback Lardarius Webb. Webb is helping to bridge the gap between the old regime and the new, and whereas he was once an understudy under Reed, he is now one of the leaders.
For the most recent episode of The Drop video series, we got up with the two Baltimore legends to talk about their love for Under Armour, as well as the legacy of that defense.
Ed Reed and Lardarius Webb represent the old school and the new for Baltimore. But considering all they’ve been through to make it, they are still very similar. Check it out.
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How’s retired life treating you?
It’s treating me good, man. Golf game’s not but it’s going good.
What else have you been getting into?
Just spending time with family, man. Working out. Recovering. A big part of playing ball is just after, after football. There were a lot of things that I thought about wanting to do after football but the main thing is just recovering and getting yourself healthy, and building my foundation up. Working with the kids in the community is a huge part of what I want to do.
Do you still keep in touch with the guys?
Yeah, I keep in touch. Different teams, I know players. It’s getting a little different with these young guys because you’re more of a mentor, which I was but coming into the league you try to help those guys and point them in the right direction to be professionals.
Talk about Lardarius a little bit. He played with you and now he’s sort of bridging the gap between your regime and the new school.
Like I always tell him, just lead by example first. You never have to be vocal when you’re doing your job on the football field because that’s what people are going to see most of all. How you put in work. Just his growth as a man over all the years that I’ve seen him, come into his own. There’s a lot that he has been through from an injury standpoint so he has a story that he can tell guys.
He’s overcome a lot of injuries and obviously you played a really long time. How much does your will factor and determination into surviving that long?
Big time. It goes back to high school and college and those days when you’re working out and your coach is pushing you to go farther and you don’t know if you can do it or not. The work in college just seems like it’s so much more than any other work you will ever do in your life. But it helps you to push past those tough times that you go through in life because it’s just not about sports. When you have that will to go out when nobody’s there and workout, getting up at 5:30 to go workout with your coaches and running those hills when nobody is there, that’s going to push you forward when you get in the game. That will, in itself, will carry you years into a career.
All of that work that I did in college, honestly, I used to go tell my strength coach Andreu Swasey like, man, you don’t know how much that’s helped me in the NFL. It stays with you. That don’t leave you. If you want to have success, be successful in the NFL or in any pro profession or any business, you gotta have some type of will to say that I want to step outside of the box. I want to do something different than what the crowd is doing, what the norm is doing. I would go train more to separate yourself and be one of the great ones, and not knowing back then where it was gonna take me or take you, and then look at your now.
How do you think Under Armour separates themselves from other brands?
Just from what they do and how they do it, just from the people I know and came across. Under Armour is Baltimore’s brand. It’s homegrown. Kevin is an amazing person to listen to, to talk to. For me, it’s about being comfortable. When you’re a player and you put on your uniform, you want to be comfortable. You want to know that you’re in the right gear. If you feel good, you play good. I can’t take the whole Deion saying because that’s another slogan but it’s the truth. You look good, you feel good, you play good.
How is that relationship like between the brand and the city?
Baltimore is a hard-working city. You have a lot of hard-working people in Baltimore. For the brand itself to be right there in Baltimore giving back to the community, the things that they’ve done as far as building parks and stuff like that, that’s what it’s about, helping the community, giving back to the people who are right there in your home state.
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How’s your summer going?
Summer’s going good. I just had a new baby. It’s been awesome and enjoying time with him.
With Ed Reed retired now, it’s going to be different. Will it be weird without having him around?
Yeah. Ed, he’s been one of my favorite players growing up. He’s a future Hall of Famer, had a great career. I know he’s going to enjoy his time not with football, but the love he had for the game, he’ll probably be a coach or something coming up soon.
All of those defenses you guys had with yourself and Reed were super memorable. That whole legacy, what do you hope the fans remember about you guys?
It’s a blessing, a privilege to have played with those guys. Those guys taught me a lot, both on and off the field, about respect, about the business part of the game, about studying and working when people are not watching. I’ve learned a lot from them and I just try to give that same thing back to the kids now. When I have that time to talk to them, I’ll talk to them. I always have time to talk. I just give back that knowledge. What they put into me I give back to them to be that great defense. We didn’t have the Ed Reed or the Ray Lewis but we had C.J. Mosley, Daryl Smith, Will Hill, the guys that are gonna replace these guys. They aren’t gonna be as great though…maybe they could? But we have guys who are gonna be great, young players who are going to fill spots like Brandon Williams. We’re gonna be a great defense.
How has your own will played a part in coming back from big injuries and staying on top of your game through all these years?
It’s just the will to want to be great. I want to be like one of those names that we are talking about, the Ed Reeds and the Ray Lewises. I’ve been through two ACLs. Hernia surgery. I’ve been through things where most guys would quit or use as an excuse. I use that will to wake up every day to come back and get my greatness. I want to be great so I train to be great. It’s not about the money. It’s not even about the game. I want to be great at my position and I put the work in to do it.
Do you think that’s why you and Under Armour make such a good partnership?
We make an awesome partnership. With me being with the Ravens and being around, they treat you awesome. They’re a nice organization that’s on the rise just like I’m on the rise. It’s a nice organization to be a part of.
You mentioned it before but obviously there’s such a big connection between the brand and the city. Can you elaborate on that?
Under Armour is a part of this community. They help lift up this community and that’s something that I try to do. That’s my goal, to give back to the community, to help lift them up from the tough, tragic times that we’ve had around here. I just want to be on board with Under Armour and lifting up this city.
Do you have any expectations for next year or goals?
No personal goals. Just with me, I want to be healthy. But the No. 1 secondary in the league, we deserve that. We have the players. They brought the right guys in. That’s our goal. We’re not settling for second. We’re trying to get that Super Bowl.
Follow Sean on Twitter at @seanesweeney