It was a rare occurrence Thursday at Destrehan High School as Ed Reed’s annual football camp did not feature the presence of Reed himself, but there was a good reason for his absence — the likely one day NFL Hall of Fame safety was headed north following the sudden passing of coaching icon Buddy Ryan. Ryan is the father of Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan, who employs Reed on his staff.But the football campers nonetheless seemed to be enjoying themselves, learning the ins and outs of the game from the DHS Wildcats coaching staff after spending two days with Reed on hand.
The annual camp has become a fixture locally, and a time of the year Destrehan head coach Stephen Robicheaux greatly looks forward to.
“It’s a great deal. Ed’s been so gracious to come back,” Robicheaux said. “Obviously the kids love him and, you know, it’s a great honor to be able to do this with Ed. He’s a tremendous individual, and when you see him out here with the kids, you see whole other side of him. Our coaches love working out here with him and think the kids are really having a great time.”
Reed is a St. Rose native, Destrehan alumnus and former NFL great who retired in 2015. He is best known for his time with the Baltimore Ravens, whom he helped lead to a 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII. He was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2004. He was a five-time First Team All-Pro and a nine-time Pro Bowl selection. Reed ranks sixth in the NFL in career interceptions with 64.
After retiring from the playing field in 2015, Reed accepted a job as an assistant on Ryan’s staff prior to last season. Ryan commented last season that he “would not be shocked if Ed Reed ends up becoming a head coach within five years.” Reed played under Ryan during the longtime coach’s time as defensive coordinator of the Ravens and for the Jets under then Jets coach Ryan at the end of Reed’s career.
Robicheaux grinned broadly when asked if Reed had asked to pick the brain of his former coach.
“He definitely told me he has a whole new perspective on coaching now because he sees what goes on and he understands now that it’s a little different (as a coach),” Robicheaux said. “He said he wished he’d known this as a player, what coaches go through and what they’re trying to accomplish. It’s really exciting for him to see these kids through a different perspective.”
Reed’s camp is run through the Ed Reed Foundation and the former Wildcats and NFL great makes a point to be at the camp each year to impart wisdom to the younger generation.
One of Robicheaux’s favorite parts of the camp activities was showing a tape of Reed’s highlights to the campers. The attendees knew or knew of Reed, Robicheaux noted, but many are too young to have seen him play at his peak.
“For them to see that, it was really special,” Robicheaux said. “He’s such a good role model and everything he does is strictly for the kids. It’s really nice.”
The campers received coaching on football fundamentals at the camp. However, the longtime Wildcats coach said the most important message the aspiring players could take from the three-day camp was to heed Reed’s advice about the importance of character and doing the right thing.
”He’s such a good role model and everything he does is strictly for the kids,” Robicheaux said.