Ray Lewis' Pre-Game Speech Fired Up Ravens


Ray Lewis didn't even need a helmet and shoulder pads to bring a bit of his magic to M&T Bank Stadium Sunday.

As part of the team's 20th season anniversary celebration, the future Hall of Famer was in town to be honored as the Ravens "Legend of the Game," and the visit included one off his classic fiery pep talks. Lewis spoke to the team in the locker room before the game, delivering a speech about what it means to be a Raven.

And the message resonated in a big way.

"I think I had goosebumps until the second quarter," tight end Crockett Gillmore said.

Several players talked after the 29-26 victory over the San Diego Chargers about the impact of Lewis' visit. Most of the players on the roster weren't in Baltimore when Lewis' emotional retirement tour culminated in a Super Bowl XLVII victory, and there was clearly a sense of awe and appreciation for the franchise's greatest player.

"I grew up watching Ray Lewis as a kid, and you just watched his speeches on TV and you were jacked," nose tackle Brandon Williams said. "So him right there in person, everyone was just popping out of their skin to just go out on the field and make one of the living legends proud."

Just having Lewis in the building elevated the energy level.

He took to the sideline during pre-game introductions, and chatted with Head Coach John Harbaugh, assistant coaches and several players. The RavensVision video boards then played a tribute to him during the game's opening series, and he stepped onto the field to wave to the crowd and bring them to their feet.

Lewis drew a huge ovation, and on the very next play, defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan sacked quarterback Philip Rivers to force a punt.

"That's a legend standing in front of you," Jernigan said. "You can tell that when this guy talks, it's different. Every man in the building stops what they're doing, and they listen. Every ear is paying attention to what Ray has to say. It was definitely fun being able to hear one of those speeches in first person, not just on TV."

The stadium fed off Lewis' energy again later in the game. He watched most of the game in Owner Steve Bisciotti's suite, and he was shown on the video boards several times during the fourth quarter.

Every time his face appeared on the screen, the crowd roared. When the defense needed to keep San Diego out of the end zone late in the fourth quarter, Lewis waved his arms to the crowd to get louder.

"I think that it gave us that little rally that we needed as a team," wide receiver Kamar Aiken said. "We rallied off of it to be honest."

The spark from Lewis came at a much-needed time for the Ravens. They picked up their second win of the season, and their first in Baltimore. They found a way to win a game late, and the defense stood tall when it needed to get a critical stop.

"It was special," Gillmore said. "A special, special day."

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