NEW ORLEANS -- Ed Reed knew what to expect because he'd been here before.

On Sunday, he will play in his first Super Bowl, but in 1997, he was on the Superdome field with Brett Favre, Drew Bledsoe and the other Packers and Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI. Reed, a star for nearby Destrehan High, had won a local Punt, Pass and Kick competition, and the prize was a chance to attend Media Day.

It was a memory Reed held on to throughout his illustrious college and pro careers, a snapshot of a fun day with his father. But a few weeks ago, it started to transform into something a little more . . . tangible.

"I started seeing those same visions as we started to get closer and closer to the Super Bowl," Reed said Monday after he and the Ravens arrived. "Before we played the Patriots [in the AFC title game], I saw those visions, but I wasn't saying anything about it. I was like, 'Lord, for real? Is this real?' I knew we had to play this game [against the Patriots] and it came to fruition."

Perhaps he can take it a step further. The Media Day experience wasn't the only thing Reed won in that competition. He also advanced to the national tournament at Disney World, where the Super Bowl MVP generally spends the day after the game.

A trip to Orlando might be in Reed's future.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

"This is awesome," Reed said. "To come home, to be in Louisiana in front of the home crowd, to be playing for the Super Bowl, I can't explain it . . . I'm just trying to enjoy it and hold everything in."

Reed might not have another chance to play in a Super Bowl. Although he sounded certain last week when asked about returning to play next season, he was a little less definitive Monday. "I'm not focused on that right now,'' he said, "so that question is pointless to answer."

Ray Lewis has announced that Sunday will be his last game. The Ravens probably don't need Reed to do that. But if they did . . . "If that's what it'll take to get the guys pumped,'' Reed said, "I would say it."

Until then, he's enjoying this full-circle experience. Reed said he'll visit his mother Tuesday, and he's also been acting as an unofficial tour guide for teammates. He was excited to find out that the Ravens' hotel is attached to one of his favorite restaurants.

"That's the first thing I wanted," Reed said. "I told the guys they had to go to Drago's and get those char-grilled oysters and get that New Orleans feel in them right then and there."