Multiple times in recent years, Reed has hinted at retirement and at 34, that could become a reality once this season comes to a close.
Last offseason, Reed made news by threatening to hold out and by saying he wasn’t “100 percent committed” to football anymore. This year, he has shown that’s not the case, playing through a number of ailments, including a torn labrum, to appear in all 15 games this season and earn his ninth Pro Bowl invitation.
On Thursday, Reed was non-committal when asked about whether this might be the end for him and whether he could be playing his final few NFL games over the coming weeks.
“I’m not thinking about that right now, man. My focus is to finish the season up right now and prepare for the playoffs and ago from there,” he said. “As far as my future, it’s all about the near future and now. It’s not about the offseason or anything like that.”
As of 2011, the average NFL career lasted about six years. Reed has nearly doubled that while playing a high-intensity, high-impact style.
He attributes that to his work ethic, which has something to do with being mentored by Ray Lewis his whole career with the Ravens.
“It’s just been a blessing to come this far and to be around you guys this long,” Reed said.
Barring something preventing Reed from playing Sunday, this will mark the eighth time he has played in all 16 regular-season games in his 11 years as a pro.
That’s something to be proud of this season, considering his shoulder injury.
“(I’m) maintaining myself. I’m doing the right things physically. It’s something I take pride in,” he said. “It’s something I try to help the young guys with, and guys across the league, and it’s something that I want to continue to do after football because it’s such a grueling time in your life for football players.
“That’s why health is an issue across the league in past and present for football players because of the physicalness, the violence of the sport. So it’s something that I want to be a part of and something that I’m glad my body’s holding up and bouncing back through the ailments that I have right now.”
But as for whether Reed’s playing career could continue beyond 2012, he isn’t sure yet.
“I’m not even thinking about that right now. I’m not even talking about it. It’s not my concern,” he said. “I know physically I feel like I can play. But also physically I have concerns for my life after football.”