Reed spent seven of those years in Washington, where the one-time Pro Bowler was a tantalizing talent undone by injuries — especially the repeated concussions he suffered throughout his career. In 2019, Reed’s last year with Washington, he took a preseason helmet-to-helmet hit that cost him the entire season. The concussion was Reed’s seventh documented head injury in the NFL, and he had additional concussions in college at the University of Florida.
Reed said Tuesday he wants to preserve his quality of life with his family. He told USA Today Sports that his doctors recommended retirement after the tight end told them he was dealing with lingering concussion symptoms.
Reed said his growing concerns about the long-term impact of the game made his decision to retire an easy one.
“Before, I was able to ignore it and not think about it too much, but when I start dealing with stuff, that’s when it becomes realistic and makes me sit back and think about what I need to do and how I want to live my life after football,” he told the newspaper.
Reed contemplated retirement last offseason before ultimately playing in San Francisco, where he finished with 26 catches for 231 yards in 10 games with the 49ers. But Reed said he still suffered symptoms like blurry vision. “Something wasn’t right,” he said.
A healthy Reed was a dominant player at his position, routinely exploiting one-on-one mismatches and using his 6-foot-2, 242-pound frame to overpower linebackers and safeties. Former coach Jay Gruden featured Reed as a go-to weapon, especially on third down.
But he was often sidelined with a variety of ailments. Beyond the concussions, he dealt with shoulder, knee and toe injuries.
He played a career-high 14 games in a relatively injury-free 2015, with 87 catches for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns as Washington made the playoffs. Reed parlayed that success into a five-year, $46 million extension — a major payday for the 2013 third-round pick. But he appeared in only 31 of a possible 64 games in the four seasons after signing the extension, and Washington released him after the 2019 season.
On Tuesday, Washington congratulated Reed on social media.
“One of the best in franchise history,” the team tweeted. “Congratulations on a fantastic career.”
Reed said he plans on getting involved in the cannabis industry now that he’s retired. He said he frequently used marijuana to help with his injuries over the course of his playing days, adding he chose it over opioids.
Reed told USA Today that if he were to have a son — he currently has three daughters — he would not let him play football. While he believes the NFL has taken steps to help reduce concussions, he “probably wouldn’t let him play because it’s dangerous.”
Reed, though, said he had no regrets about how his career unfolded. He caught a total of 355 catches for 3,602 yards and 28 touchdowns. He said he would cherish those memories “forever,” but said he’s hanging up his cleats at the right time.
“It really came down to being able to be a healthy person for my family,” Reed said. “Being there for my children is what’s most important to me.”
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.