Late For Work 10/2: Ray Lewis A Packer? It Almost Happened

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Ray Lewis A Packer? It Almost Happened

Can you imagine a Ray Lewis statue standing outside Lambeau Field instead of M&T Bank Stadium?

How about Ray Lewis doing his tunnel dance for thousands of screaming cheeseheads? Ray Lewis, Reggie White and Brett Favre playing together. Ray Lewis: a Packers legend.

It's sickening to even to imagine. But Lewis was mere seconds away from traveling down a gold (and green) path that skipped right over Baltimore to Green Bay, Wis.

That's because Packers brass were primed to pick him with their No. 27 pick in the 1996 NFL Draft, according to CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora.

With their pick moments away, the front office had Lewis and his agent on the phone, letting him know that they were going to select him. His name was written on the draft card, which a Packers representative was holding and ready to turn in at the NFL draft table in New York City.

But Ozzie Newsome, the great "Wizard of Oz," agonizingly ruined their day. He altered Packers* *history.

Sitting exactly one spot ahead of Green Bay, the Ravens GM waited until deep within his allotted time to swoop in and nab Lewis with the 26th-overall selection. It was a decision that would impact the next 17 years of Ravens franchise history.

Even 18 years later, you can still hear the regret, the pain, the sting in the voice of then-Packers GM Ron Wolf as he describes what took place in the CBSSports.com video below.

"I think there was less than a minute to go," Wolf said. "And then of course we heard that Baltimore selects Ray Lewis, linebacker from the University of Miami. And that was not my finest moment."

"The air went out of the room," John Dorsey, then-field scout and now Chiefs GM, says of the Green Bay war room.

Wolf is still kicking himself for relaxing. He's still rebuking himself for trading up, or doing something, anything, to ensure his team secured the future Hall of Famer.

"There were so many things I could have done differently," Wolf said. "I've played it back and forth in my mind so many times, what I should have done and didn't do.

"The end result is we win the Super Bowl that year, but it was not my finest time with the Packers. As one gets older you have a chance to review the things you did over the course of your career that were idiotic and stupid, and this is one of those things."

Why didn't they trade up?

The Packers were convinced Newsome wasn't going to take a linebacker. He didn't need one. Today, we all know the legendary Newsome would never select based on need. But back then, Newsome was still new to the game, a novice, so the Packers* *didn't know any better.

"My God, we had him on the phone and we're all thinking we've got him," Dorsey said. "No one expected Ozzie to pull the trigger and when you did your research, he wasn't going to take a linebacker. But Ozzie is Ozzie and he's going to pick a good player, and Ozzie saw Ray Lewis.

"You look back at the magnitude of that player. I'm sure it still leaves a pit in his stomach."

Jaguars Should Have Taken Mosley At No. 3

While we're on the topic of drafts going differently, here's how the 2014 draft *should *have unfolded if there was a do-over. Not because teams, like the Packers, are kicking themselves. This is just what NFL.com's Gil Brandt thinks should have happened based what he's seen from rookies five months removed from the draft.

Instead of falling to the Ravens at No. 17, Brandt says it would have been smarter for the Jacksonville Jaguars to select inside linebacker C.J. Mosley with the third-overall pick.

That jump up the board is no joke.

"Ravens coach John Harbaugh raved about him in the pre-draft process and recently told me that Mosley has been even better than he thought he'd be," Brandt said. "Mosley has started all four games for Baltimore and has 34 tackles, a forced fumble, and four passes defensed. In the Ravens' victory over Carolina on Sunday, he had 11 tackles and knocked down two passes, giving him a nomination for Pepsi Rookie of the Week. I had him ranked as the 23rd best player in the draft in my Hot 100, but I didn't see the impressive coverage skills at Alabama that he has displayed in the NFL. That's the reason for his move way up the do-over board."

S. Smith Sounds Off On Panthers

We thought the Panthers were in Steve Smith Sr.'s rearview mirror after demolishing them with 139 yards and two touchdowns Sunday.

But we thought wrong.

On Wednesday morning, Smith was sour about reports depicting behind-the-scenes* *reasons for his departure from Carolina. So, he sounded off on Panthers GM Dave Gettleman and Head Coach Ron Rivera during a WFNZ interview in Charlotte, saying he felt "stabbed in the back."

Smith seems to be mostly upset that neither man leveled with him face-to-face before he was cut from the team. He also feels the team is now leaking stories to justify their decision in the wake of Smith showing he can still play at a high level Sunday.

"Every time I keep reading stuff and reports come out, I just think I was stabbed in the back," Smith said. "Just like coach Rivera said he wasn't a sore loser, but yet he never even spoke to me through the whole ordeal. Not one time. He didn't look at me man-to-man and said this was going down. He said he's a players' coach but he never came in and said 'Hey Smitty, this is going on. Wanted to give you a heads up.' He hid in his office."

Smith moved on to Gettleman next.

The 35-year-old receiver said he first heard through teammates that his job was in jeopardy, along with the idea that he was a "nuisance" and "distraction." When Smith confronted Gettleman, the GM told Smith he was a "shadow" of his former self and couldn't run or jump like he used to.

Smith took exception to the idea that he was nuisance, and it hurt him deeply because he felt he gave everything he had to help the team win championships.

To add insult to injury, Smith says at the time it was planned for him, his agent and Gettleman to meet to discuss the future, Smith learned about his release from the radio.

"He doesn't even have the cojones to tell it to my face," Smith said.  "Everybody else says that it wasn't personal, but if the first thing that comes out of your mouth is it wasn't personal, well guess what, it was personal."

Smith's comments created a stir in Carolina, and Rivera was asked to defend himself in the Charlotte Observer video below.

Torrey Smith Leads NFL In Drawing Interference Penalties

Head Coach John Harbaugh suspected it (there's no official record).

Some digging into the books confirmed it.

Harbaugh told Torrey Smith that he thought the four-year veteran might be leading the league in drawing pass interference penalties. It was Harbaugh's way of encouraging Smith as he continues to work for more yards and touchdowns.

Turns out, Smith is indeed the king of drawing PI penalties, per ESPN's Jamison Hensley.

Smith has drawn a league-high five PIs in four games, amounting to 98 yards. Four of those five flags have resulted in drives that ended in points for the team, so hopefully Smith really will* *find comfort in it.

Report: Monroe To Miss A Month

It's a good thing there was no fall-off in the offense when undrafted rookie James Hurst took over at left tackle Sunday … that is, if this report from The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson is accurate.

While neither Harbaugh nor Monroe have confirmed how long it will take for Eugene Monroe to return after knee surgery, Wilson's report indicates Monroe will be out until around the Nov. 2 Steelers game in Week 9.

Suggs Has MAD Respect For Luck

If you missed this, you have to watch it.

It's the first time I've seen Suggs be foul-mouthed while at the same time pay MAD respect to his upcoming opponent in quarterback Andrew Luck.

"Usually we come up here and play a political game and we're like, 'This guy can make every throw and this guy is pretty good,'" Suggs said.

"This guy is actually really [freaking] good.

Suggs wasn't the only one to sing Luck's praises. The whole defense seems to hold the third-year player in high regard.

"In my 14 years of covering the Baltimore Ravens, I don't recall a time when the defensive players raved about a young quarterback like they did when talking about Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck on Wednesday," Hensley wrote.

Quick Hits

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Everyone go vote for Joe (http://t.co/egXZ3QNonK) to win this week's @FedEx #AirandGround award. #RavensNation pic.twitter.com/PrSLxjVgO7 — Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) October 2, 2014

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