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What Others Are Saying

Current & Former Players On Ray Lewis

Three-Time Pro Bowl LB Tom Jackson:
"When you look at his career, what he was able to accomplish over the years, the longevity, the excellence, you start doing a shell game with those top five guys to play the game, Ray Lewis is somewhere in there. … As a player, his skillset was outstanding, but emotionally, in terms of inspiring guys around him to be a better player in your own right, I think there is no one who has ever been better at that than Ray Lewis."

Former Baltimore Ravens Teammate and Pro Bowl QB Trent Dilfer:
"He was the best defensive player on the field every game he played in. Off the field, he was the best. He had this unique ability to resonate with every single person in the locker room. And that's hard to do. In the NFL, unfortunately, sometimes the guy who is most productive has the loudest voice, and that messaging is wrong. Well, that's not the case with Ray. He is the most productive player, but his messaging within the locker room is always right.

"The biggest thing that goes unsaid about Ray is how much he invests in the relationships with his teammates. You see the antics. You see the enthusiasm, the passion on the field, but off the field, he's the first guy to go sit at a locker with someone that's struggling with something, whether it's football related or not football related. He has that personal touch. … You trust everything about him, and he makes everybody better.

"There's an intensity to him. That intensity is authentic. It's genuine, and it's always directed at making the football organization better. … When I say he's the best, really in my experience in the National Football League, I've never seen a person better than him at those three layers: preparation, leadership and play."

Former Baltimore Ravens Teammate and Eight-Time Pro Bowl CB Deion Sanders:
"When I played with the Ravens, as a defensive player and a 37-year old savvy veteran, you didn't want to let Ray Lewis down, no matter the situation. I don't care if it was practice, you didn't want to let him down. You wanted to win at all costs."

Four-Time Pro Bowl RB Eddie George:
"He's No. 1 as far as that goes. He laid some of the biggest hits on some of the best players in the NFL. But his knowledge of the game has always been like no one else, too. He's always known where to be, how to get there and who was getting the ball. He was always three or four moves ahead. And you always knew you'd better know where No. 52 was at all times. Because if you didn't — if you weren't paying attention — that could be the end of your career. There's only one Ray Lewis. There will probably be athletes that are bigger and stronger and faster, but the combination of heart and leadership that he brings with it, I'm not sure there will be anyone like him again. To play 10 years in the NFL is amazing, but to play 17 is a completely different stratosphere, and the level he played the game … he's a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He'll probably go down as one of the greatest players out of any position to play in the NFL. He'll go down as one of the greatest players in all of sports."

Vikings Five-Time Pro Bowl RB Adrian Peterson:
"It will definitely be a blow to the league to lose another guy like Ray Lewis. He definitely inspired me, just the passion and how he's dedicated to his craft to be the best. That's definitely what makes him the best linebacker to ever play the game. He will never be forgotten. He will be missed always."

Seven-Time Pro Bowl LB Dwight Freeney:
"He's meant a lot just for the league in general, but [for] defensive guys especially. This is a league where the most focus goes on offense – quarterbacks, running backs, all the high-profile positions. Very few times do you see a defensive guy get highlighted on a commercial, this, that and the other. Then you see Ray on there. It's kind of like he's one of us, even though he's on the opposite team. You feel good when you see him. Obviously, the things he's done for the game and just how he motivates guys …I've been around him a few times at the Pro Bowl, and it really is amazing – how passionate he is. Even in a Pro Bowl game. …There's only one Ray. …He's meant a lot to that organization and that city."

Former Baltimore Ravens Teammate and Hall of Fame TE Shannon Sharpe:
"When you talk about great defensive players, Ray ranks favorably with the [Lawrence Taylors], the Reggie Whites, the Dick Butkuses, whoever you want to put up there. I don't think you can go very far without talking about Ray Lewis and his accomplishments."

Former Baltimore Ravens Teammate and Pro Bowl RB Jamal Lewis:
"In recent history, I can't really think of a player who has been as valuable to a team as Ray has been. He's a different player, as far as his physicality, his passion off the field, his work ethic, and at the same time he can lead vocally. You don't have all of that in one player, and I think that's what makes him a Hall of Famer and probably the best linebacker to ever play the game.

"Those young players came in there following Ray Lewis, learning from Ray Lewis, being around Ray Lewis in the locker room every day. He instilled a lot in a lot of players. Somebody else will rise to the occasion. He was the standard of what the Baltimore Ravens attitude is all about."

Former Baltimore Ravens Teammate and Pro Bowl FB Lorenzo Neal:
"Leadership isn't given — it's earned. Ray Lewis absolutely earned leadership, in a way that caused the coaches, staff members, teammates and everyone around him to say, 'Oh my God.' Ray Lewis would tell you to whip a bear with a switch, or that you could go fight Mike Tyson in his prime, and you'd believe it, because he worked harder than anyone and more passionately."

Former Baltimore Ravens Teammate T Tony Pashos:
"Please, please try to capture [everything] Ray embodies that has nothing to do with measurable athletic achievement or talent. When he speaks to you, he has a charisma that just overtakes you. He was so demanding of us all. And I feel like he was on a different calling than even the Hall of Fame. He was possessed.

"Football is different than other sports. It's a lifestyle game. But dude, that guy? It was everything. It was like, 'There's nothing else on this planet except this arena.' It's almost like Ray was born inside 'Gladiator.' And I know he loved that movie.

"They say winning and losing is contagious. Well, Ray is contagious. His greatness is contagious."

Former Baltimore Ravens Teammate LB Brendon Ayanbadejo:
"I think the model is more important than the vocalness. The vocal makes him kind of a spiritual leader, but the model, the blueprint … he's the greatest of all time, so you can't really refute that."

Ravens Two-Time Pro Bowl RB Ray Rice:
"Mentally, he has raised me over the last couple of years. My locker is right next to his, and I just can't picture Baltimore without him. He has kids, but I was one of his kids. It's like he's passing the torch down saying, ‘I have to let you go.' But I know he is always going to be there."

Ravens Five-Time Pro Bowl OLB Terrell Suggs:
"I'm not sure there is a word that can describe it. Ray has definitely been like a brother to me. It's been bigger than football between he and I. Sitting next to him, like I said, for 10 years picking his brain has been fun. It's been one hell of a ride.

"He's probably, arguably, going to be labeled the greatest linebacker of all time. I think that's an amazing legacy to live. He was on a record-setting defense led by him. He's done some amazing things, and it's been awesome to play aside a giant such as that, a legend like that."

Former Baltimore Ravens Teammate CB Cary Williams:
"The leadership quality goes beyond just football. He's a great motivator. He can motivate you to get off the streets. He can motivate you to get up and do something in your life. He's touched a lot of lives. He's touched mine and those of some of my family members who don't even know him. But a vocal leader of Ray's caliber is virtually unreplaceable. It's a once-in-a-lifetime deal. You don't find those around the league. I don't think there's another one like him."

Pro Bowl G Mark Schlereth:
"When it comes to game planning for a middle backer there was Ray Lewis and then everybody else."

Coaches & NFL Personnel On Ray Lewis

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Ray Lewis' Legacy:
"His legacy on the field is extraordinary; 17 years and playing extraordinary football, not many people can match that – if anybody. That speaks for itself. What I'm so proud of is what he's contributed off the field. He's meant so much to the NFL, to the Baltimore community and to the Ravens for what he's done off the field, and that speaks volumes about Ray Lewis and his leadership.

"He's somebody I rely on a great deal. He has the pulse of the players; there is nobody that talks to as many players as Ray does. When you need to get some input and try to get some perspective, particularly the players' perspective, there is no one better than Ray. I'll call him, or he'll call me, and I really appreciate having that kind of input.

"I don't know how you could talk about great middle linebackers without talking about Ray Lewis. Again, how he's performed on the field, it's really extraordinary, and that's a tribute to him and the Ravens. To play 17 years for the same team is something we don't see very often anymore, but it's a great thing for the people of Baltimore and for Ravens fans."

Ravens General Manager/Executive Vice President Ozzie Newsome:
"Ray Lewis will not only be remembered as one of the greatest to play his position, he will also be thought of as one of the greatest players in NFL history. And, he is one of the greatest without a doubt. He had the one quality all of the best have: He made all the players, coaches and people around him better. It has been a privilege and a joy to be with him throughout his career. We in the Ravens have been very fortunate to be around this great man and player."

Ravens Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees:
"To me, what you see sometimes is Ray is a very motivational guy, very motivational when he talks, when he gives a speech, when he comes onto the field – all those kinds of things. But the things that we see or I see as a coach – and I've been blessed to be around a lot of really excellent linebackers – the things is, he is the best example anybody could ever be as a teammate. For every young player that comes in, to watch a guy that has been in this league 17 years sit there and take notes and look like a rookie back there in the meeting room, to me, it's phenomenal."

Green Bay Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy:
"I don't know, at least in my time in the league, if there's been a defensive player that's had as big an impact. ... He's really an incredible example of a leader. Talk about somebody opening up his chest and giving it to his football team."

Indianapolis Head Coach Chuck Pagano:
"I thought, ‘Shoot, the guy could play forever and would play forever.' As you know, there's a time and a place for everybody when it comes to an end. [He's a] great person, great man, great player. Just an unbelievable human being, what he's done for that organization and that city and for that matter, so many people. He's just, obviously, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and he'll be sorely missed.

"He's a difference-maker that way. Nobody studied the game and prepared as well as Ray. He taught so many how to do that, and he's such a great mentor and such a great leader in that respect. He always had great insight and great perspective of not only going into a game, but what was transpiring out on that football field, and then could communicate it to, not only myself, but many, many coordinators before me. He was awesome.

"To be able to talk and text back and forth and stay in touch, it just, again, speaks to the man that Ray is. I feel very, very fortunate to have had the opportunity like all those football players and coaches that have come through that organization that have had the opportunity to play and coach by his side.

"Nobody trained as hard. A lot of guys at the end of the year would take a certain amount of time off. Ray wouldn't take that much time, and he took great care of his body. He was a great pro in that respect. He knew that was the only way to be able to stay and play at the level that he was able to play at and be as productive as he was in the latter years. It's just a testament to his work ethic and how he took care of himself and took care of his body – both mentally and physically."

Around The Community On Ray Lewis

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley:
"Ray Lewis is an outstanding football player who exhibits passion and leadership both on and off the field. His commitment to football has made him worthy of a place in the Hall of Fame, and his dedication to the City of Baltimore and incredible community spirit has made him a man of dignity, respect and character.

"We will always be grateful for his love of the people of Baltimore and fans everywhere. He has given football fans of all ages hope and inspired us all to reach beyond our dreams. Though we will miss him on the field, we wish him well in his future endeavors."

NFL Reporters On Ray Lewis

Former Ravens Head Coach and Current FOX NFL Analyst Brian Billick:
"When you as a coach stand in front of your 53 quasi-millionaires and there's Ray Lewis – front and center, book open, eyes at the ready – and you've got some rookie or second-year player slouched down in the back, book's not open because he doesn't know what it's like to be a professional ... What a great opportunity I had as a coach and anybody who's coached Ray to say, 'Are you kidding me?'

"If he saw someone who was not being a professional, you knew at some point he was going to cozy up to him and throw his arm around him. And not be the kind to embarrass him or call him out but pull him aside and say, 'Hey, let's go look at some film. Let me show you where you ought to be looking. Let's get another set of reps in the weight room. Let's stay after practice and go over a couple of things with you.' He did that all the time."

ESPN's John Clayton:
"But the biggest emotions revolve around Ray Lewis.

"The Baltimore Ravens are losing more than leadership after the season with the retirement of Ray Lewis. They are losing one of the five best defensive players I have had the fortune to cover. Lewis will be missed next season, but I will be looking forward to the Pro Football Hall of Fame vote for him in five years. He will be inducted on the first ballot. He's earned it."

YahooSports.com's Michael Silver:
"There are warriors, and there are leaders – and there are leaders among leaders. It's quite possible that Lewis, in addition to being the greatest defensive player of his generation, impacts the emotional states of those around him like no one who has ever donned a pair of shoulder pads."

CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman:
"As we reflect on his career, one he says will end after this season; it wasn't work ethic that made Lewis the greatest middle linebacker of all time. It was speed. It was devastating, offense-wrecking, sideline-to-sideline speed that propels him past Dick Butkus as the GOAT at MLB.

"Speed doesn't kill as much as it maims. Lewis was so fast that at his height, offenses could barely run a ground game, especially to the outside. He was too fast.

"Lewis revolutionized the middle linebacker spot. It's fine to talk about others like Butkus or Jack Lambert or Mike Singletary. All great. No disrespect. None, though, had the longevity of Lewis, and, more importantly, none had the speed."

ESPN.com's Jamison Hensley:
"When it came to the running game, Lewis was fast enough to chase down running backs and physical enough to make them pay when he did. In Lewis' first 16 seasons, Baltimore never allowed more than 3.9 yards per carry.

"When it came to the passing game, he was explosive enough to rush the passer and athletic enough to cover running backs and tight ends.

"Lewis isn't simply the best defensive player because of his play. What made Lewis special was how he elevated those around him and consistently made the Ravens the most feared defense.

"Lewis came into the league as the 26th overall pick 1996, sliding down the first round because he was considered undersized. Seventeen years later, he leaves the game with a legacy that is larger than life."

YahooSports.com's Les Carpenter:
"Lewis did nothing with beauty. Instead he gave the Ravens a defensive heart, a throwback, in a way, for a blue-collar city that doesn't mind rough and bloody."

SportingNews.com's Clifton Brown:
"Lewis is a Super Bowl MVP, a two-time defensive player of the year, a leader of men, and the face of the franchise. Lewis played at a Hall of Fame level for at least 12 years, while elevating his teammates with his passion and knowledge. No other linebacker has been so good for so long."