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Ray Lewis Is Folklore To Ravens Rookies


Rookie linebacker Arthur Brown had just finished touring Baltimore's Sports Legends Museum and was chatting with fellow rookie Brandon Williams about the Ravens' legend of legends – Ray Lewis.

Brown heard that if you just tap Lewis on the arm, it felt like hitting a brick wall. Williams heard that Lewis' stomach, which looked like it had a bulge to it, was actually just abs upon more abs.

Stories of Lewis have become folklore for this year's class. The rookies are a bit bummed that they didn't get to march alongside "The General," who retired after 17 seasons following Super Bowl XLVII.

For the first time ever, this year's rookies literally look at Lewis as a piece of history.

"I'm not going to lie, when I found out I was going to be a Baltimore Raven, the first thing I thought was, 'Man, I ain't going to have Ray Lewis as a teammate,'" Williams said. "Just stay one more year so I could get that experience."

The Ravens rookies have a tradition of visiting the Sports Legends Museum. It gives them a familiarity with the city they now play for and an appreciation of sports history.

It includes a Ravens section with a huge picture of Lewis doing his signature dance out of the tunnel, which nearly every rookie took a glance at.

"Him being here, that's something I would have valued," said Brown, who has already been tabbed by Ravens fans as Lewis' successor. "But we're one year late."

Every year, rookies had to adjust to meeting Lewis. They had a deer-in-the-headlights moment, then moved on to being his teammate. Now the newcomers just imagine what it would be like.

"The day I see Ray, I'm going to flip out," Williams said.

"I think about the position that we're in is the same position he was in," Brown said. "It's our chance to make history, to make a mark. We just have to live every day in light of that and consider the impact we make on others throughout our history."

Brown said he's not too disappointed because he's part of a team where Lewis' impact is still felt. Lewis left an imprint on players that would pass that on to him, he said.

"Without Ray, it's a new era in Ravens football, I think it's safe to say," linebacker John Simon said. "But there are so many great players and so many leaders that are stepping up to fill his shoes. Hopefully one day I'll be able to meet him. For now, it's pretty cool coming in here and seeing pictures of Ray Lewis."

The entire class of Ravens rookies filed through the museum, more attentive than classes in years past.

They heard from four speakers: Colts Hall of Fame running back Lenny Moore, Negro League baseball player Al Burrows, Super Bowl-winning wide receiver Qadry Ismail and Orioles sparkplug outfielder Al Bumbry.

They talked to the rookies about becoming one team together, putting in extra time, valuing their rare opportunity, saving their money, accepting and overcoming their weaknesses, finding motivation from within and embracing Baltimore's passionate fans.

"It's amazing," Simon said. "They're legends of the sport and to be able to meet them in person is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Knowing that Baltimore has such a great sports history, it makes you proud to play with the Ravens."

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