SAINT ROSE, LA. ——
Edward Reed was a mess.
Jeanne Hall — the woman the Ravens safety calls a second mother — can't find any other way to put it when she thinks back to the classes he missed and the assignments he disregarded as a freshman at Destrehan High.
But he was such a charming, clever mess — a kid who wrote romantic poems at the same time he played football like no one the school had ever seen. "You're either going to be a comedian or a preacher," she used to say on the many nights he stayed at her home, trying to get his world in order.
Though Hall has worked with thousands of Destrehan students and hundreds of football players, there's a reason she keeps Reed's picture on her desk beside snapshots of her biological children.
"You know Edward, everybody's not blessed like you, the talent you have," she would tell him. "So you can waste it or you can do something good with it. And he chose to do something really good with the talent."
That's why Super Bowl week in New Orleans has been such a proud time for Hall and others who helped Reed emerge from this place. He has returned not only as an all-time-great player but as a son who fulfilled their fondest hopes.