Reed's honesty not best policy

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:19 AM ET

Honesty is already in short supply in the business of sports, so it hurts to point this out, but what in the name of bad negotiating was going through Ed Reed's mind when he made these comments.

The Ravens all-world safety, who is dealing with a hip injury and yet is still looking to re-open his contract that has three years left on it, had this to say during a recent radio interview.

"I believe with the hip, it could be a realistic thing where it could be October, November, and December. We don't know."

That sound you heard was the jaws of every agent in the sports business hitting their desks.

You don't go looking to better your deal and then in the same breath admit you could miss most of the coming season.

Throw in the earlier comment about "coming back for at least one more year" and Reed might be in line for the NFL owners' favourite negotiator award.

The Ravens, with a robust returning cast and the addition of a game-breaking receiver in Anquan Boldin are being touted as one of the beasts of the AFC. With Reed as its last line of defence, that might be true. Without him they are no where near the same team.

IN A HUFF

You would think after 12 years in the NFL, Hines Ward would know enough not to pay too much attention to any media pre-season predictions.

But a recent Pittsburgh Tribune-Review piece suggesting the Steelers would win only six games this year not only caught his eye but had him firing back at the writer.

"People are so quick to bury us and put us in an old folks' home like we can't play," Ward told the newspaper. "I still caught 95 balls [in 2009]. How can you explain that? Next year if I only catch 40 balls then you have a legitimate story to write."

Ward did, however point out a trend the six-win prognosticator may have overlooked. According to Ward, the past two Steelers titles both came in seasons when doom and gloom was predicted for the team. It was the years expectations were high that the Steelers faltered.

LESS NOW, MORE LATER?

On the surface, Windsor native O.J. Atogwe's five-year, $32-million US contract looks like a solid deal that could keep the safety in St. Louis colours for years to come.

More likely, according to Howard Balzer of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, Atogwe will receive the $4.1-million he is guaranteed this year with the final four years of the contract voided at the end of the season.

Atogwe is due an $8-million bonus next off-season and the thinking is that the Rams will cut him loose before that payment comes due.

It works in Atogwe's favour because he becomes a free agent and it's highly unlikely free agents next season will be getting the kind of unwelcome treatment they've been getting for the most part this year.

COUGH MEDICINE WITH A KICK

JaMarcus Russell's recent arrest for possession of codeine syrup sounds somewhat innocent compared to the use of steroids or HGH, but at least one former NFLer thinks this may just be the latest way players are getting an illegal boost.

Apparently the "purple drank" as it is known, was also what got Green Bay lineman Johnny Jolly in hot water as well as the late Terrence Kiel.

Former Broncos tight end Shannon Sharpe told USA Today he sees a trend.

At one point in the NHL, it was over-the-counter drugs like Sudafed that were being used to give players a little pep in their step. For years, off-ice officials looked the other way or didn't see it as a problem.

That was eventually rectified.

Expect the NFL to step up its vigilance with regards to every-day cough syrups turning up in locker rooms with regularity.

FOURTH AND INCHES

So far the Eagles have sworn that Michael Vick's job is not in jeopardy following an incident at his birthday party that resulted in a former associate being shot. Vick was cleared of any wrong doing but just being associated with the people he got into trouble with for a dogfighting ring has to be concerning. Now comes word from Philadelphia radio station WIP that the Eagles have interest in Baltimore QB Troy Smith, a former Heisman trophy winner out of Ohio State. The Ravens have some Joe Flacco insurance in Marc Bulger making Smith expendable. And if Smith does make the jump to Philly, you can pretty much say adios to Vick.

MIKE.GANTER@SUNMEDIA.CA


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