Ravens give Reed game ball for playing through family tragedy

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Ed Reed's Baltimore Ravens teammates awarded him the game ball after their playoff win Sunday, then the Pro Bowl safety boarded a private jet to return home to his family.

Reed said the gesture was one of many examples of the support the franchise has given him since his younger brother went missing in Louisiana two days ago.

Reed, who made four tackles in the Ravens' 30-7 AFC wild-card victory over the Kansas&bspCity Chiefs, said family members and teammates helped him keep his mind on his job as questions remain about his brother, 29-year-old Brian Reed.

"My older brother called me and told me, 'Do what you do. You handle your business; we'll take care of everything over here,'" Reed said.

Brian Reed has been missing since Friday, when he apparently jumped into the Mississippi River after being confronted by a deputy sheriff in Louisiana in response to a report of a stolen car.

Karen Reed, the mother of Ed and Brian Reed, said investigators found her son's shoes and jacket. She said the car the man ran from belonged to another brother.

Sgt. Dwayne LaGrange of the St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office said authorities were unable to identify the man who jumped in the river. Authorities eventually called off the search for him.

Reed said situations like his brother's disappearance were reminders that there were more important things in life than playing professional football.

"It's a child's game we play," Reed said. "It's not tough to focus on this stuff. Being around these guys helped me stay focused and going forward in life knowing God has got everything. I'm not worried about football. That's the least of my worries."

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Reed was flying home from Kansas City on a private jet before rejoining his teammates early in the week to prepare for Saturday's playoff game at Pittsburgh.

"I think what Ed's going through, what the Reed family is going through, is a big part of this victory," Harbaugh said. "That's what will be remembered by our players. We're a family, and the Reed family is part of the Raven family.

"For Ed to do what he did under the circumstances and to play the way he played, to lead the way he led, that's just an incredible thing."

Pro Bowl linebacker Ray Lewis said the players rallied around Reed while also trying to keep their emotions in check.

"It kind of hard to speak about that," Lewis said. "It's one thing to speak about a teammate. It's another to speak about a brother. Anytime you lose someone like that, it just draws every one of us closer.

"I just take my hat off to my team for the things we fought through this week knowing how tough it is to come in here and for us to win the way we did today. It's a good win."

Other teammates said they would have understood if Reed had decided not to play, given the uncertainty of his brother's fate.

"Who's a better teammate than Ed Reed?" linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "He didn't have to play today, but he chose to play. It was the simple fact that we wanted to give him three hours of peace. It definitely was an emotional win for him and the rest of us, too."

Reed's 54 interceptions lead the NFL since he entered the league in 2002. Despite missing the first six games this season following offseason hip surgery, he had an NFL-best eight interceptions in just 10 games.

Reed is the only player in NFL history to have scored touchdowns off a punt return, blocked punt, interception and fumble recovery.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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