Five years after retiring from his position as field general and head of one of the most feared defenses in the NFL, Ray Lewis will be inducted into Canton and remembered forever as one of the greatest, if not the greatest middle linebacker of all time. The true impact of Ray Lewis on the field is difficult to put into words without understating his role for the Ravens. Ray Lewis wasn’t just a football player, he was the epitome of football. Nobody could rival the intensity or the passion of Ray Lewis, as cute as some have tried to be with it. The only brief moments in a long career of dominance, here are five moments that encapsulate the greatness of Ray Lewis.
- 2000 Superbowl and multiple MVPs
Ray Lewis was the face of the infamous Raven’s defense of 2000 and capped off the season not only with a super bowl win but a super bowl MVP to his name. The Ravens defense of 2000 stifled opponents all season long allowing Trent Dilfer to manage games all the way to a championship, along the way Lewis was named NFL Defensive MVP of the year. During the playoff run up to the super bowl, the Ravens only allowed one touchdown.
1997 Probowl + 2003 AP Defensive Player of the Year
In the years of Lewis’ ascension to greatness in Baltimore, he racked up a trophy case full of awards and pro-bowls. In 1997 Lewis was selected to the pro-bowl after leading the league in tackles with 210. In 2003 Lewis bounced back from injury and earned a second defensive player of the year award.
3. Hit on Dustin Keller
Ray Lewis’ hit on Dustin Keller is one of the greatest hits of the modern era, arguably the last of the real hits in the modern era. Under the lights in primetime Lewis laid down a hit that has stuck in the memories of fans for years. Lewis’ crushing blow is the kind of hit football fans everywhere long to have back, a hit that these days is merely legendary.
4. Stopping the Chargers
Ray Lewis wanted to define his legacy by claiming a second super bowl title. To claim his second ring, the Ravens would have to fight their way into the playoffs five times over five seasons. Each season included defining moments that kept the Raven’s title hopes alive well into January. One of those moments included Lewis making the final stop of the game against the Chargers allowing the Raven’s playoff hopes to remain alive.
5. 2012 Superbowl
The “team of destiny” that overcame the odds all along the way managed to help secure their field general his second world title in the final game of his career. Baltimore and Ray Lewis alike made much of his final run after he announced he would be retiring at the end of the 2012 season. Lewis played through the playoffs with a torn triceps as Joe Flacco had a postseason for the record books. Lewis got his final parade and walked away at the top as he believed it was intended.
This class of Hall of Fame inductees is arguably the strongest in its history. For Lewis, donning the gold jacket will be a momentous occasion, and a classic Ray Lewis speech has already been promised. For the young fans that haven’t heard much of Lewis before this, they will certainly remember him after the ceremony.