Ed Reed Image Credit: (KingFuses Lit house Youtube Screenshot)

Ed Reed, Flag on the Play

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Before the ink could even dry on his contract, Bethune Cookman University rescinded their offer to Superbowl champion and former University of Miami football faculty member Ed Reed. After a 15-minute-long social media video rant about his now-former/almost employer, Ed is now out of a job. I have no idea if he went to his bosses first, but I imagine he probably didn’t go up enough channels before he decided to take it to the streets. I also don’t think he was entirely wrong, but his approach was, at the most, cruel and, at the least, misguided.

Ed’s social media rant stemmed from his office not being cleaned when he got there as well as other less-than-pristine appearing campus buildings, but at the very least, Ed seems to be a person of consistency.

In an interview from 2018 with Joe Buck, he recounts that when he played for the Super Bowl-winning Baltimore Ravens, their locker room was in less than orderly conditions, no thanks to his fellow players, and how this infuriated him. There is also a video of Ed Reed on campus before he was ultimately fired, having student-athletes from different disciplines pick up trash on the school grounds. 

Neat freaks need love and employment too.

No one is upset about his desire to see a bastion of Black excellence look like a landfill, but the way he went about it did not serve its intention. HBCUs present their own conundrum, they are so desperately needed as a final safe haven for Black students before they enter the world, but they are also classically underfunded and are not strangers to financial issues or even scandals. Bethune Cookman is no stranger to those things, and a campus that is already stressed financially, suffered even more after two hurricanes hit their school in 2022. 

 Is there a space for Reed to air out these grievances without making the school look bad to an audience that already questions the necessity and even educational outcomes of HBCUs?

He said himself that’s why he doesn’t do “social networking,” but he understood its impact enough at the time that it would be a place to not only vent but also possibly bring change, but maybe he underestimated its strength. I am not sure how he wouldn’t think that his tirade, whether right or just, would not upset his employers. HBCUs are often the last resort for Black athletes, and their main focus is on education. While HBCUs should be a stronghold of Black athleticism as well, many high-profile student-athletes are gobbled up by PWIs with huge school budgets. Athletics make money, and it becomes a cycle that many HBCUs can’t seem to pace their way through. A school that has money brings in money. There was space for Ed Reed to recognize that, and with his ire, whether rightful or not, it is important to be diplomatic, especially while teaching young men sportsmanship.  

I am sure he really did care about those children, as reiterated by Deion Sanders, the former JSU coach who moved on to a PWI which paid him more, but that doesn’t give Ed the right to embarrass their institution, and, therefore them. The faculty would not be the only people who will receive a snicker or a sneer when they mention where they work, but every current student and even alumni will have their educational credentials judged, if not just silently.

People and educational institutions don’t need to be kicked when they are already down or have Shaq take back the money he said he would donate (according to Edgerrin James).  If you are coming into a situation knowing that it is dire, and I can’t imagine he didn’t know that a school whose record was 2-9 for two years in a row was, in fact, in dire straits, then you could understand how harmful projecting those inadequacies for an audience that may already be wagging its finger can be. 

Having a space that is clean and up to par is important. But so is not embarrassing your bosses and students. Sorry Ed, but flag on the play.

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