Even before Calais Campbell was traded to the Ravens, he felt a strong bond with Ray Lewis.
Campbell grew up a huge fan of Lewis, whose Hall of Fame career in Baltimore spanned from 1996 to 2012. The connection to Lewis grew stronger when Campbell decided to play college football at Miami (Fla.), the school that also produced Lewis and Ravens Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed.
Campbell admired Lewis for his ability to lift his teammates to a higher level, something Campbell hopes to do once he arrives in Baltimore. The Ravens traded for Campbell last week and signed him to a contract extension.
"I study great players – Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, Tiger Woods – you go down the list of all the people I've studied in my lifetime who've done great things, not only in the sports world but in the business world, too," Campbell said on The Lounge podcast. "Ray Lewis is probably the No. 1 guy I've studied throughout my life, as far as the way he speaks, his leadership, also his working regimen, the motivation and tenacity. He's a guy I've respected a lot. He's definitely my favorite."
Campbell has already enjoyed a distinguished career as a five-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman and the most recent winner of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. However, Campbell hasn't won a Super Bowl, and he wants to emulate Lewis and Reed by winning the Lombardi Trophy in Baltimore.
"I hope I can do something they did, be mentioned in the same breath as those guys," Campbell said. "Those guys are my role models. I look up to those guys a lot. It's kind of cool to be mentioned in the same breath as those guys."
It remains to be seen if Campbell becomes one of the team's vocal leaders, which is a role that Lewis embraced.
But if Campbell wants to get his teammates' attention, he'll certainly have the voice for it. Similar to Lewis, Campbell has a distinct voice, raspy and deep – instantly recognizable once you hear it.
"I think it came from just passion on the football field,' Campbell said. "I lost it probably like Year 2 in the NFL. It never came back. It's been this way ever since. I can't imagine it being any other way now."
Maybe Campbell will have a future doing voiceovers like actor James Earl Jones.
"If they make The Lion King 3, I'm in there," Campbell said.