Pro Football Hall of Famer Ed Reed was recently announced as the next head football coach at Bethune-Cookman University. The 44-year-old was recently on campus in Florida to negotiate his deal with the school.
While there, Reed was asked a question regarding Damar Hamlin’s harrowing collapse and the National Football League. He offered a very bold, profound perspective and seemingly compared the NFL to slave “fields.”
Reed said that players “get treated like sh*t” and that they should have guarantees in their contracts, as well as insurance. Hamlin’s near-death incident is not the basis for his opinion, but an example of how dangerous that the sport can be.
I’ve been saying they need to put guarantees in the contracts because you can die playing this sport. Our sport been the worst sport and everybody knowing that our contracts still not guaranteed and we still get treated like sh*t, for lack of better words. It’s the truth. People know.
— Ed Reed
Hamlin, who has since been discharged from the hospital and continues to recover at home, played this season on his rookie contract. It is not guaranteed.
To receive a pension from the league, players must have at least three credited seasons. Hamlin has just two.
In addition, by being placed on Injured Reserve, his contract includes standard provisions that cuts his pay. Fortunately, though, the NFL, NFL Player’s Association and Buffalo Bills have reached an agreement so that Hamlin will be payed in full.
Nevertheless, Hamlin’s collapse serves as an intense reminder of the reality that comes with the sport. Reed wants to make sure that no agreements have to be reached— he wants guaranteed contracts.
Ed Reed seemingly compared the NFL to slave fields.
While discussing his point of view, Reed made a striking comparison.
You know our league is ran [sic] by owners. We know that. We know it’s not a players-led league. We know the truth. Everybody know [sic] the truth and the truth is who runs it and why it’s ran [sic] that way, it’s still the fields. It’s still an extension of the fields.
— Ed Reed
The “fields” that Reed referred to aren’t exactly clear. However, he seemingly likened the NFL to a modern-day plantation that shackles athletes under the guise of employment.
Reed has issue with the way the NFL is run, and he continues to deal with a lingering nerve issue. His insurance is not covered.
And yet, Reed would not go back and do things different. He said that he has “no regrets” about playing in the NFL because it was his way to make something of himself, he just wants to see change.
Crazy part is that in all honestly, I’d do it again. I have no regrets,” Reed said. “Why? Because the way the world is set up that was one of my ways out as a young African American man and it still is and I’d do it again. But I need to have it in the contracts that you could die and your insurance and all that is covered.
— Ed Reed
Hamlin’s injury continues to advance discussions about what the business of football should look like. Reed is joining in on the conversation.
Here are his comments in full: