To honor their slain former teammate Steve McNair, several members of the Ravens organization traveled to Hattiesburg, Miss., to join nearly 5,000 other mourners at a funeral on Saturday.
Linebacker Ray Lewis was the only Raven to publicly take the podium, but safety Ed Reed, cornerback Samari Rolle, general manager Ozzie Newsome, director of security Darren Sanders and assistant equipment manager William Sheridan were also in the crowd.
In a nearly five-minute speech (which can be viewed in it's entirety on baltimoreravens.com), Lewis broke up only once towards the end when he talked directly to his fallen friend.
"I find myself in awe with the chance to speak about Steve McNair," said Lewis. "We always used to walk in and call each other 'buddy,' and we knew what that meant.
"Life isn't about what people see on the outside. Life is about what's on the inside. Of all the things I've seen my man go through, all the pain you went through, all the sacrifices he made with his insides, I ask the Lord to box him up and send him home, because he left his legacy."
With McNair's wife, Mechelle, four boys, and mother, Lucille, watching near the front of a flower-decked stage, Lewis focused on the McNair he knew and loved.
"The first day of my life meeting Steve McNair, even in competition, I became a friend," Lewis said. "A man that I fought against day in and day out, I figured out that it wasn't about technique to beat him.
"No amount of film would beat this man. You had to be built of will, heart, sacrifice and dedication. That is what this man left his four kings, "Lewis said, referring to McNair's four sons.
While the memories of a strong father, a dedicated philanthropist and an iron-willed field general were the ceremony's heart, the salacious details surrounding McNair's murder could not be avoided.
The decorated quarterback, 36, was shot and killed on July 4 by his 20-year-old girlfriend, Sahel Kazemi, who then turned the gun on herself.
Lewis welcomed McNair to the Ravens' locker room in 2006 after Baltimore traded to acquire him from the Tennessee Titans. In his first season donning purple and black, McNair led his new team to a franchise-best 13-3 record, but the following year was marred with injury, and the 14-year veteran retired in the 2008 offseason.
McNair was also known for his extensive charitable contributions, perhaps most notable when he filled two-dozen tractor trailers with relief supplies for families affected by Hurricane Katrina in his home state of Mississippi.
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