Respect goes both ways

The trash talk many would expect to hear when two rivals like the Steelers and Ravens play has been replaced with somewhat of a mutual admiration society.

And the two players who are getting the most praise – Steelers safety Troy Polamalu and his Ravens counterpart Ed Reed.

"I would say Troy is better because he is my teammate," said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. "They are 1A and 1B. I don't know which is which, but I will take Troy.
He is one of the best. If you call Troy the best, (Ed) is second best. If you call (Ed) the best, Troy is second best.

"You have to have an eye on (Ed) and know where he is. He will trick you, he will make plays. You can't fall asleep on him. He is one play away from changing the game."

As expected, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis would side with Reed but thinks both players fit perfectly into what is needed on their respective defense.

"I am always going to be biased to an extent because I watched that kid, Ed," said Lewis. "But I am going to be respectful to both because they play the game the way the game is supposed to be played. You keep that in mind regardless of who is better and who is not.

"Troy is (darn) good for Pittsburgh and Ed is (darn) good for Baltimore, and that's really the only way you can look at it. Without those two players on each end, their defenses are not the same. That's for both players. It's not who is better, it's that both play the game the way the game is supposed to be played."

Polamalu is flattered to be mentioned and compared to Reed by Lewis, but he looks at Reed as the best in the game.

"Regarding comparisons I have always considered Ed Reed to be the best safety in the NFL, perhaps ever," said Polamalu. "I definitely appreciate the answer coming from perhaps the best linebacker to play the game. I could have answered that saying Ed Reed is the best safety ever to play the game. That is what I believe. I have tremendous respect for Ed Reed.

"He has an incredible feel for the game. It's tough to explain. He may completely gamble on a play, but in his mind it's not a gamble because he doesn't get beat like somebody like myself would."

Rivalries are part of life for football players, from the time they step onto the field in pee-wee leagues and all the way though.

But the Steelers-Ravens rivalry is one that has set itself apart in sports.

"It's the best in sports, I think," said Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs. "Everything that fans want to see out of a rivalry is in this game – the hatred between the two teams, the physicality between the two teams. I think it's the best rivalry in sports."

The rivalry even reached into the world of social media this offseason when players from both sides did some talking via Twitter.  
"A lot of us were bored this offseason," said Suggs. "It is what it is. We know everybody is expecting a gang fight, so we are just going to hold up our half of the bargain."

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is hoping he isn't on the receiving end of what transpired this offseason.

"I keep telling our guys to stop tweeting stuff. I am usually the one that feels the brunt of it, not the defensive guys," said Roethlisberger. "No matter what anybody says, no matter what the record, when we play the Baltimore Ravens, whether it's here, there, anywhere, it's always a fast, physical game that people love to watch.

"I hate going to Baltimore, I hate playing there, and I hate playing them in general just because they are good. That's not a knock on them; it's giving them a lot of credit because they are such a good football team. If there is any good going there the first game of the year it's let's get it out of the way so we can move on with the rest of the season because this is almost like its own season when we play those guys."

Polamalu is entering the final year of his contract and was asked on Wednesday if he thought a deal would get done before the start of the season on Sunday.

"I leave all contract discussions between the Steelers and my agent," said Polamalu. "It's better that way and things don't get misconstrued."

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