Chix Chat Pro Football

Meeting the REAL Ed Reed

Posted by Friday, July 22, 2011

Every once in a while an opportunity presents itself in such a way, that you realize timing does mean everything. One evening earlier this week, I received an instant message from Tony Lombardi asking me if I wanted to represent at Ed Reed's cocktail party being held on July 21 at the Havana Club.

My immediate thought was "OMG, if Tony is making this up, I will be crushed."

Turns out, the invitation was sincere.

Anybody who has read any of my books or my occasional blog here on this site knows that I am a dedicated fan of all things Raven. Some prefer to call my behavior "stalking." I like to refer to myself as being "charmingly persuasive." At the end of the day, the real truth is, and there is no delicate way to put this, I'm a Ravens' whore.

I have been known to stand out in the rain, snow, sleet after a game waiting patiently for autographs. I waited for years before purchasing season tickets because I wanted to have seats close enough to the field that I could whisper in Ray Lewis' ear. I will get in the faces of fans who are saying mean things about our players.

I bleed purple!

After my husband Ken and I figured out what casual business attire for men and cocktail dress for women meant, we drove down to the Havana Club and got to the event about 30 minutes before the doors opened. So, after Ken and I checked in and then checked out what other people's interpretation of the dress code was, we sat ourselves at the bar in Ruth's Chris and ordered sodas. I don't drink, but if I did, I wouldn't have anyway because I was representing Tony's company, his baby, and didn't want to do or say something stupid.

(editor’s note: It would be ok…Tony always says stupid things anyway)

I have to say that since the Havana Club instituted its "no smoking" policy back in February of this year, going up to that iconic place was both a relief (no more cigar smoke) and a disappointment (no more cigars.) However, the rest of the club is the same with its comfy leather chairs, dance floor and very sexy ambience.

The appetizers were divine. Crab cakes, Cuban influenced tortilla wraps, chicken Cordon Bleu that was much easier to eat on a skewer than you'd think and other such noshes.

Around the front of the room, near the bar were great silent auction items: Autographed Ravens' jerseys, mini helmets, pictures, footballs and other memorabilia. Ken and I fell in love with a huge, signed photograph of the man of the hour: REEEEEEEED!

We went around the room with our sparkling waters with lime and met some of the other guests. Just about all the attendants were playing in the Ed Reed Foundation charity golf tournament today. One woman, who is cut from the same purple cloth as me, signed herself up for the tournament and doesn't play golf. Now that is a great fan! Her husband took her spot in the foursome, and she got to drive the cart.

Another guest and I hit it off right away. He's a financial advisor, and I happen to think my advisor is an idiot. As we talked, Ken was invited to be the fourth in my new advisor's group.

So we wandered and we schmoozed; we ate and we celebrity watched. A photographer was on site taking pictures of the guests and athletes. We asked if we could get our photo taken, and that was when I saw the man – the inimitable Mr. Ed Reed.

My normal self would have run over and set on his lap and given him a kiss on the cheek. I couldn't be normal. I promised Tony I would behave. So, I sent Ken over. Ed saw Ken coming, stood up, shook his hand and thanked him for coming. I demurely walked over and shook Ed's hand as well. He was in no rush and was hanging out with his family on the comfortable couches.

I have to say this, I've always thought Ed was a great guy. Nice; no pretentions; just Ed. Ed Reed will sign autographs if the Ravens have won or lost a game. He thanks children for coming out to the game and will remind the parents to keep their kids safe. So while Mr. Reed is one of the best football players in the history of the game, he's also just a guy who never forgets his upbringing and cares about his community.

Ed told me a little about his foundation. He is a proud papa when he talks about his proverbial baby. While the foundation has been in existence for nine years, last year was the first year he introduced the golf tournament. When speaking with him about his desire to make sure that there really are no more at risk kids in the country, Ed seems almost shocked that his events are sellouts.

Ed Reed is incredibly humbled by the fact that so many other people care about his passion. Ed was mentored as a youth and knows he could have walked down a very different path without adult guidance. He wants all children to have an adult to look up to.

Ken and I must have chatted with Ed for about 10 minutes. We didn't want to monopolize his time, but he his so fascinating to talk to. So, I asked if I could have my picture taken with him. Ed told my husband to get in the photo too and handed my cell phone to his brother. The picture was snapped, and then I asked Ed if I could have a picture of just the two of us. Like a gentleman, he checked to see if my husband was okay with this. I said to Ken, "Don't worry honey. I love Ed, but I'm going home with you."

Ed cracked up, and our picture turned out great.

Ken and I walked away from our conversation with Ed feeling like we just caught up with an old friend. When we wandered around in search of more appetizers, we noticed the bidding on the silent auction items was heating up. I kept a competitive eye on my item to make sure I was still the highest bidder and met my husband at the bar. I looked around and saw this really attractive man in a red t-shirt, jeans and matching red Converse shoes. The last I checked, jeans were prohibited from the Havana Club.

That could only mean one thing. This great looking guy with the long dreads was a Raven.

I said to my husband, "OMG! I just saw Lardarius Webb! After we get our drinks, will you take my picture with him?"

The bartenders and staff were working so hard, and it was hot in the club with all of those people milling around. I didn't want to jump over the bar and pour our reserved bottle of sparkling water myself, but I didn't want to miss a photo with Lardarius. What seemed like a lifetime later, we got our drinks, and I saw Lardarius sitting on the couch with Ed and his family.

I walked up to him, and squatted down and said, "I don't mean to be rude, but would it be alright if my husband took a picture of the two of us?" Lardarius thanked me for asking for his picture. We chatted for a minute, and I thanked him again for being so gracious. "I really miss football," I blurted. "So do I", said Mr. Webb.

Lots of other Ravens came to the Havana Club lending their support to the Ed Reed Foundation. I saw them and smiled, but I had work to do. The silent auction was winding down, and I am not a good loser; particularly when it comes to football memorabilia.

Ken won his signed photo of Ed Reed. Someone offered him $500 on the spot for it; a request Ken could only politely decline. I won an autographed football. I have several autographs of football players, but I knew this ball would be a really special housewarming gift for some friends of mine in Virginia.

So Ken and I left the Havana Club with our auction items and an even better picture of what Ravens do when they are not on the field. Ed Reed and I did not discuss the lockout. What is there to say at this point?

He did say that having down time was great for allowing him to have a hands-on approach with his golf tournament and his one day football camp he had the day before. He was excited that 150 kids had shown up for it, despite the heat.

That is the real Ed Reed. He plays football. He cares about the game. Ed Reed really cares about the future and the legacy he leaves behind.

And having him in our community makes me feel hopeful for the city's children.


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