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Ed Reed has three-letter reply to being ranked No. 4 safety of all time

Where does Ed Reed think he ranks among the best safeties of all time? Apparently not No. 4.

Gil Brandt of NFL.com put together a list of how the greatest safeties stack up, and he placed Emlen Tunnell, Troy Polamalu and Ken Houston ahead of Reed. That prompted a short but candid response from the former Baltimore Ravens playmaker on Twitter: "Lol."

It's understandable why Reed feels slighted. He went to more Pro Bowls than Polamalu. He had more interceptions than Houston. And he had more interception return yards and touchdowns than Tunnell.

Many believe Reed is the greatest safety of all time, and that includes someone ranked ahead of him on this list.

“I’ve told him to his face many times, 'You’re the greatest safety ever to play the game,'" Polamalu told The New York Times in 2009. “We all learn from each other, but we all learn most from him."

As general manager Ozzie Newsome said in 2003, Reed made safety a glamour position again. In 2004, he became the first safety in 20 years to win the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award.

Reed earned the respect of Tom Brady, who wrote "find No. 20 on every play" on his wristband when he played the Ravens. He frustrated Peyton Manning, intercepting him three times in a divisional playoff game (although two were negated by his teammates' penalties). And he received the ultimate compliment from one of the greatest coaches of all time.

"Can't say I've ever coached against anybody better than Ed Reed in the secondary," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.

Reed didn't swing the momentum in games because he was the fastest or the strongest. He just had the best instincts. He took a pass from one end of the field and returned it to the other like no one else, and he had a knack for doing it at the most clutch times.

In 2004, Reed set an NFL record by returning an interception 106 yards for a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns. Four years later, he broke his own record with a 107-yarder against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Reed's other NFL records are for the most interception return yards for a career (1,590) and most career playoff interceptions (nine, tied with three others). He led the NFL in interceptions three times, including in 2010 despite missing the first six games due to injury. He averaged one interception every 2.5 games (including playoffs) over his 11-year career.

“There are good players, but then there are also players that are a game-changer," Newsome said. "Whenever we knew it was time for a play to be made, we would all say to ourselves, 'It's Ed Reed time.'"