Lean on me

Jason Cole
Yahoo! Sports

Each Tuesday, Yahoo! Sports will talk to one of the NFL's top players to get a glimpse into what they're up to on their one off day during the week. Today, we speak to Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed, the 2004 defensive player of the year.

Cole: What's on tap for the off day?
Reed: Tuesday is your day to yourself, but it's hard to get away from football because the next day you're getting ready for the next team. You don't want to come into it unprepared. So you end up coming in to do some studying, looking at the film, looking at the next team. A lot of guys try to relax, get treatment, get a massage and get the lactic acid out of your body. So you're still probably getting up at 8 or 9 a.m. and coming down to the facility for something. Me, I'm going into treatment right now.

Cole: So after receiving treatment, do you just take it easy?
Reed: From here, I head down to Booker T. Washington (Middle School in Baltimore). I try to do that every Tuesday, unless the Ravens have something else going on. I think the next couple of weeks, we're supposed to go help rebuild some house around Baltimore, so I'll probably do that.

Cole: Any chance you'll be out there putting the roof on a house?
Reed: Roofing? Nah, probably not. I do have a physically demanding job already.

But I try to get over to Booker T. and help out as much as I can. Sometimes I just sit in class and answer questions, if I can remember the answers. Sometimes I pull a couple of kids out of class and just talk to them. Maybe they're having a problem with their attitude in class or something's going on at home and they just need to hear some encouragement, a motivational talk.

Cole: So do you have kids of your own?
Reed: I don't have any of my own kids. Between Booker T and the kids at the football camp in Louisiana, that's enough for me right now.

Cole: What kind of other charity or community-based programs are you involved?
Reed: Pretty much whatever the Ravens ask me to do, I'm going to help. That's just how I am. I want to help around Baltimore. Some guys want to be to themselves on their off day. To me, this isn't strenuous. It's still my time and I'm doing something I feel good about.

Cole: So do you cap off the day with partying or hanging out?
Reed: Going out on Tuesday night? Nah, I don't do much of that. Wednesday is an early morning. We get going at 6 a.m. for the next team. I've been thinking about Oakland from about two seconds after the Tampa Bay game was over. That's just how your mind works. It's on to the next team just about as fast as the other game is over.

Cole: After an injury-plagued 2005, what does it feel like being healthy again?
Reed: Last year, when I was hurt, it was very frustrating, but it was a learning experience. You'd sit there and not know what to do mentally. I just had to wait to get healthy. (Linebacker Ray Lewis, who was also injured) and I had a lot of time to talk and evaluate what we were going to do to get ready for (this) season.

Cole: Was your hometown affected by Hurricane Katrina and have you been back to the area since?
Reed: My hometown (St. Rose, La.) is about 20 minutes outside of New Orleans. It didn't get hit too hard by the hurricane last year. It's on the outskirts. But yeah, I've been back to New Orleans a couple of times. I can't even begin to describe it because it's so bad. It's a mess and there's still no dogs or cats or animals down there. People are still finding bodies in their houses as they start to clean up. It's just bad.

For information on how to donate to Reed's "Eye of the Hurricane" program, which helps fund programs at Booker T. Washington Middle School in Baltimore and Reed's football camp for underprivileged kids, contact Brad Davis at 301-461-5126.

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