It's not often we write about NFL assistant coaches here on FoxSports.com, but rarely does any team hire an assistant coach as high-profile as new assistant defensive backs coach Ed Reed. The soon-to-be Hall of Fame safety just wrapped up his first ever OTA's as a non-player, working the man who helped make him a star in Baltimore, his former defensive coordinator Rex Ryan.
Ryan of course eventually moved onto New York as a head coach, and once there, he brought Reed along as well. And it was in New York, where the light bulb went on over Ryan's head, and he realized Reed would be a great coach.
Ryan was asked about the Reed hire on Thursday, and gave a long-winded answer, which shows just how deep the relationship between the two is. Here's Ryan on Reed, via the Buffalo News:
Everybody knows he's a first-ballot Hall of Fame player, but it's how he is with the other guys. He's more like the pied piper, people follow him. And that was even when he wasn't the dominant player that he used to be with Baltimore. When I had him with the Jets, he took that whole group and they'd follow him. And he can share, they all want part of that wisdom he has and I thought for our team, you can't have a better guy. Here's a guy that is a first ballot Hall of Famer, has won the Defensive MVP playing this system and playing the same position you're playing. So I think immediately, those players were like, "Vroom." They swarmed to him because everybody wants to be successful.
That's incredibly high praise from Ryan, but he wasn't yet done.
Instead, he continued, explaining why the old adage "great players don't make great coaches" won't apply to Reed.
And here's a guy, a lot of times you can get great players, they don't make great coaches for whatever reason. I think part of it is that they expect everybody to be able to do some of the things from a talent standpoint that they've done. But with him, I saw, especially later in his career, how he would take time with everybody and how that would affect guys' play. We had a young corner we drafted who was struggling and Ed came in and all of a sudden he ends up winning Defensive Rookie of the Month, the last month of the season. And how his confidence just went through the roof. And that was a lot that I attributed to Ed Reed.
Ryan refused to name the cornerback (he told reporters he was afraid of "tampering") but the point remains clear, Reed is a special person, with a special gift for communication, leading other players to gravitate toward him. And considering I once spent six months researching Reed's Miami Hurricanes teams, none of this comes as a surprise. As one of his former teammates told me, "We watched more film at Miami than I did in the NFL." And it was Reed who was the ring leader.
As for Reed himself, he seemed more than comfortable in his first meeting with the media as an assistant coach as opposed to a player. He told a great story about how he was cooking nachos when Ryan called to offer him a job, and then accepted a few days later.
And in terms of being "the great player struggling to transition to coaching, well, Reed has an answer for that as well.
I play a lot of golf. I hit a lot of golf balls. I hit a lot of golf balls. To answer that question, I hit a whole lot of golf balls, man.