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Jamal Lewis Going Into Ring Of Honor

Posted Sep 17, 2012

The Ravens' all-time leading rusher will be inducted during halftime of the Browns game.

Jamal Lewis helped run the Ravens to a Super Bowl.

He ran for 2,066 yards in a single season, second all-time. He ran for a Ravens-record 295 yards in a single game.

Now Lewis will run into the Ravens Ring of Honor.

On Monday, the franchise officially announced that Lewis will become the sixth former Ravens player inducted into the ring.  He will also join former Owner Art Modell and eight Baltimore Colts.

The ceremony for Lewis will be held at halftime of the Ravens’ Thursday night primetime game against the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 27.

"Never did I think that 12 years later I would be accepting this great honor,” Lewis said Monday. "This is where it all started for me.”

Current running back Ray Rice is on pace to be the Ravens’ most productive back in team history. But before Rice, it was Lewis who led the Ravens’ grinding offense for more than half a decade.

The Ravens drafted the 5-foot-11, 245-pounder out of Tennessee fifth-overall in the 2000 NFL Draft to be a "tackle breaker” in the rough-and-tough AFC North.

He turned out to be more than that.

Lewis was always ready to bulldoze a defender. He said that he always felt like he was defender who played on offense.

"My dad always told me, ‘Be the hitter.’ So that’s kind of what I always instilled in my work ethic and how I ran the ball,” Lewis said. "It’s an intimidation factor also. I’m not a big talker, and I kind of like to lead by example and gain my respect by how I played on the field.”

Yet Lewis also had enough wiggle to shake a scared safety in the open field, and the speed to pull away. His athletic goal-line leaps are immortalized in paintings around the Ravens training facility.

Lewis was a workhorse – the type of running back that’s now a dinosaur in the NFL.

"I don’t know if I would make it right now,” Lewis said with a chuckle.

Lewis was named to just one Pro Bowl in 2003, but he was a critical part of the often overlooked Ravens offense.

Lewis is the Ravens’ all-time franchise leader in rushing yards (7,801), attempts (1,822) and touchdowns (45). His 47 total touchdowns and 30 100-yard rushing games are also team bests.

He rushed for more than 1,000 yards in five of his six seasons in Baltimore, and averaged 1,300 rushing yards per season in his six years on the field (he missed all of 2001 with a knee injury).

As a first-round pick in 2000, Lewis’ rookie season was instrumental in the Ravens reaching the Super Bowl. He was the offensive counterpunch to the team’s legendary defense.

Lewis rushed for 1,364 yards and six touchdowns that season, and set a record for most rushing yards by a rookie in the Super Bowl with 102 yards on 27 carries.

"The reason we were able to win the Super Bowl in 2000 was because of Jamal Lewis,” General Manager Ozzie Newsome said in Monday’s press conference. "I think the reason we didn't win it in 2001 is that Jamal got hurt and we weren't able to replace him.”

Lewis suffered a season-ending knee injury in training camp before his sophomore season. But he returned to have an unforgettable 2003.

Outside of his Super Bowl run, that season sticks out to Lewis the most.

He chased former Los Angeles Rams running back Eric Dickerson’s all-time record into the final week of the regular season and came just 39 yards short. Lewis beat Barry Sanders by 13 yards for second all-time.

After getting 15 carries for 69 yards in Week 1 against Pittsburgh, Lewis said he remembers then Head Coach Brian Billick saying if he doesn’t get 30 carries in a game, it’s a problem.

Lewis responded the next week with 295 yards on 30 carries, marking the start of a historic season. Lewis scored 14 touchdowns that year and had 12 games with at least 100 rushing yards (and two with more than 200).

"That year was a very, very special year,” Lewis said. "I just answered the bell.”

Lewis spent three years with the Cleveland Browns after his seven in Baltimore. He had two 1,000-yard seasons before the wear and tear of the game finally caught up to him and he was forced into retirement at 30 years old.

But he came back to Baltimore in the end.

"All my memories are pretty much here,” Lewis said. "This is kind of where I grew up. … This was like home for me."

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