Lewis was the second pick by the franchise in 1996, behind fellow future Hall of Famer Jonathan Ogden. The franchise was in the process of moving from Cleveland to Baltimore, and Lewis got a call from Ozzie Newsome to say the team was taking him with the 26th-overall pick.
Lewis still has a vivid recollection of that conversation, and the immediate question he had for Newsome.
“I’ll never forget the phone call that Ozzie Newsome gave me,” Lewis said. “The first thing I said to him, I was like, ‘Ozzie, what’s our team name going to be? Who are we?’”
The franchise did actually have a name already, as the “Ravens” had been chosen a month before the draft following a fan poll in The Baltimore Sun. Lewis must not have been aware of the team name when he got the call from Newsome.
The franchise was still very much in flux at the time of the 1996 draft, and many of the basic team details like colors, logos and uniforms had still yet to be decided. Lewis looks back and laughs at all of the uncertainty at that point.
“We hadn’t made the transition yet,” Lewis said. “We were still the Browns, and we hadn’t gotten uniforms yet. We had none of that. It was all a huge shock. I was like, ‘I don’t know who I’m playing for. I don’t know where I’m going or anything like that.’”
“I’ve always told everybody that God doesn’t make mistakes, and He knew that Baltimore would be a very special place to bring football back, and who knew that He was going to bring me and Jonathan Ogden back to be the first picks here. Like I said, I can only applaud my city, applaud Ozzie Newsome, applaud the Ravens organization for actually drafting me."