What would the Baltimore Ravens be without Ray Lewis (the Cleveland Browns?). He may be the single most important player to a franchise in the NFL. He’s been the unquestioned leader of the Ravens seemingly since he came out of Miami and joined the Ravens in their very first year in Baltimore.
It was 1996 when they drafted him with the 26th overall pick with their second pick in the first round. With their first pick they drafted another Hall of Fame player in offensive lineman Jonathan Ogden. Obviously, that was a tremendous way to kick things off in Baltimore but who would’ve guessed that 17 years later they’d have 2 Super Bowl championships under their belt?
Ray was instrumental in both, but especially in 2000 when he spear-headed one of the best defenses in NFL history. He’d eventually inspire this most recent team to go on an improbable run to a championship after finishing the season in a slump and a lot of it can be attributed to the Ray’s leadership skills.
He’s a Hall of Famer and one of the best middle linebackers in NFL history which is saying a lot considering the violent nature of the position; a position he embraced passionately every single time he took the field whether he was playing or not. His contributions are worthy of immortalization in the form of a statue outside of the Ravens’ stadium:
In his final season, the last of the original Ravens just led his team to a Super Bowl victory, and about the only argument over him among Baltimore fans is whether he was a better leader or a better linebacker. And to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, that is a legacy that deserves to be preserved in bronze.
Bisciotti told ESPN that the team plans to erect a statute of Lewis outside M&T Bank Stadium, joining the great Baltimore sports icon Johnny Unitas, the Hall of Fame Colts quarterback whose statue is the only one at the stadium. -Source
Well deserved. Now there are plenty of images they can use to create a statue for Ray, but here’s a few images that capture his focus and passion on the gridiron.