Baltimore Ravens LB Ray Lewis was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it was announced Saturday night in Minneapolis, Minn. Lewis, who played his entire 17-year career in Baltimore, becomes the second homegrown Raven (T Jonathan Ogden, 2013) to earn Hall of Fame honors.
A 13-time Pro Bowler, seven-time first-team All-Pro and two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2000 & 2003), Lewis is the Ravens' second-ever draft choice (26th overall in 1996, following Ogden, who was tabbed No. 4). During his incredible career, Lewis helped guide Baltimore to two Super Bowl titles (2000 & 2012), earning MVP honors in the 2000 season's game.
Prior to being named to the NFL All-Decade Team (2000s), Lewis led a defense during the Ravens' title-winning 2000 campaign that established a 16-game single-season record for fewest points (165) and fewest rushing yards allowed (970), recorded four shutouts (one shy of the post-1970 merger record), and finished first league-wide in six key defensive categories.
The only player in NFL history to produce at least 40 career sacks and 30 career interceptions (41.5 sacks & 31 INTs), Lewis also tallied a Ravens' franchise-record 2,643 career tackles, including a single-season best 225 stops in 2003.
In addition to the attached documents that highlight his legendary career, please see below for a list of quotes from executives, coaches and players who Lewis directly impacted:
Hall of Famer Ozzie Newsome (Ravens General Manager & Executive Vice President):
"For 17 years, we could point to No. 52 and tell the other players: 'Follow his lead. Practice like Ray practices. Prepare like Ray prepares. Be a great teammate like him.' It was our privilege to have him as a Raven. We are all better for having him here. His play on gamedays speaks for itself. Even in that small group who have the honor of being a Hall of Famer, Ray stands out. When you talk about the great players of all time, no matter position, he is among the greatest of the great."
John Harbaugh (Ravens Head Coach):
"Ray represented Ravens Football perfectly. He established what it means to Play Like a Raven, which has become a standard we believe in and our fans understand. It was an honor to coach Ray on the field and to maintain our friendship off it. I'm wishing Ray and his family many blessings during his Hall of Fame journey, as I know he walks in faith and will always remember that we walk together as Super Bowl champions."
Brian Billick (Former Ravens Head Coach):
"What the fans saw of Ray Lewis on Sundays is what we saw every day, every meeting, every workout, every practice – that unabridged passion for the game and excellence. We congratulate him on what is truly a worthy Hall of Fame induction."
Steve Bisciotti (Ravens Owner):
"Obviously, there is nobody more deserving. He made people around him better, which is the greatest compliment that you can give anybody in football, and he clearly was that guy."
Hall of Fame T Jonathan Ogden:
"It's pretty clear Ray was the heart and soul of the Ravens for 17 years. If anyone is deserving of this honor, it's Ray Lewis. He is a guy we all looked to – both on offense and defense – to lead our team. He was definitely the catalyst for our 2000 Super Bowl team, and throughout the years, he helped define what it means to be a Raven.
"Few, if anyone, could do what Ray did – much like Lawrence Taylor, who had the ability to take over a game. Additionally, Ray's ability to inspire and positively impact everyone around him was a rarity.
"As the first two draft picks in Ravens history, Ray and I came in with the same mentality that we were determined to create something special. From the beginning, the bond we shared was incredibly special. That connection is even stronger now, as everything has come full circle, and we're able to stand side by side in the Hall of Fame."
Hall of Fame TE Shannon Sharpe:
"Before we get to his play, Ray is the greatest leader in team sports history. No one is even close. His resume as a player speaks for itself, but I'll add this: He dominated in two eras of football. In the first half of his career, when the run game was the most prominent, he was a beast. Extraordinary. He singlehandedly shut down great backs like Jerome Bettis, Eddie George and Fred Taylor. When the passing game became the way teams regularly moved the ball, he was spectacular. Teams didn't run screens against him. Receivers became reluctant to come across his view, and his speed allowed him to take away shallow and deep parts of the middle of the field. I saw all of this as a teammate with him and playing against him. No inside linebacker in the history of the game has the resume of the man I call 'Suga.'"
Hall of Fame S Rod Woodson:
"What needs to be said about a guy who was, by far, the best leader I witnessed in my 17 years of play? Not only a great leader to the whole team, but a mentor to teammates and players on other teams – and those playing other pro sports. (People would be amazed at the athletes being mentored by Ray today.) His singular focus to be the best player and teammate he could be separates him from other Hall of Famers. So unselfish. So selfless. The passion we all saw was real. He's relentless. It is who he is. His play was off the charts, a virtual tackling machine – and a playmaker. He caused fumbles, recovered fumbles, interceptions, tipped passes. He did it all for longer than anyone who played his spot in the middle. If possible, he got better with age. His attitude and effort remained the highest, but his knowledge increased with all his study. Even as a young player, he would call out the plays the offense was about to run. He could play so fast, and with such confidence, because he knew what was about to happen."
S Ed Reed:
"I believe my big brother is one of the greatest football players to ever put on a uniform. Everything he displayed about the game – on the field and off the field – by being a leader and a constant professional truly set a great example for those around him. Honestly, I think he could still play. Congratulations, big bro."
Hall of Famer Mike Singletary (Former Ravens Linebackers Coach):
"It was my privilege to spend time with Ray and be awed by his play and leadership. As a witness from the sideline in practices and in games as his linebackers coach, I saw everything about him. As a player, he was ferocious. His ability to make every play, and the way he did it with his speed and power, I'll never forget that. He electrified his teammates in practice and games. His leadership was none like I've ever seen. His work was so thorough, his credibility allowed him to bring his teammates along with him to the highest levels. He took over games emotionally, creating intensity that was special and off the charts. I can't emphasize enough how his teammates followed him. He worked at his craft. Did he work harder than everybody else? I can't identify another like him. Hall of Famer? He's the best I've seen, and, if people thought I was good, I know that Ray was better."
Marvin Lewis (Former Ravens Defensive Coordinator):
"Ray is the most driven, talented and smart player I have ever met. Each day he wanted to know what he could do to be the best and make the team better."
Mike Nolan (Former Ravens Defensive Coordinator):
"You could argue that Ray is the greatest defensive player in history. I was very fortunate to coach Lawrence Taylor. Since he was an outside linebacker, offenses could run away from him. The same with a great lineman like Reggie White. You couldn't run away from Ray. He played in the middle of the field. He could literally stop inside running games, sweeps and screen passes by himself. Then you add his dedication to the game: the film study, the lifting, the passion, the leadership. I grew up in the game and never saw or heard about anyone who did what Ray did."