Ozzie Newsome is regarded as one of the best general managers in football, and Ray Lewis has made his job a lot easier.
Newsome hit the jackpot by drafting tackle Jonathan Ogden from UCLA and Lewis, a linebacker from the University of Miami, with the first two picks in the inaugural draft for the franchise in 1996. Ogden was nominated for the Hall of Fame this year and Lewis is a surefire first ballot player to be enshrined in 2018.
Now that Lewis has informed his players and teammates of his impending retirement, Newsome released a short statement.
Ray Lewis will not only be remembered as one of the greatest to play his position, he will also be thought of as one of the greatest players in NFL history. And, he is one of the greatest without a doubt.
Lewis’ dominance on the field also helped Newsome from a front office standpoint because he was a recruiting chip when needed. Historically, the Ravens haven’t been an organization to acquire big name players via free agency but when necessary, Lewis would typically do his part in convincing players to come play in Baltimore.
The two players that specifically come to mind are Deion Sanders and Steve McNair. Sanders had already been retired for three years but was convinced to chase his third Super Bowl championship. McNair was courted by Lewis after the struggles at quarterback with Kyle Boller and even programmed, “Chosen One” into his phone, a song that reminded him of his excitement to have McNair in town.
He had the one quality all of the best have: He made all the players, coaches and people around him better.
If there was an all-time Most Valuable Player award, Lewis would have to rank within the top three. Over the 17-year history of the franchise, and Lewis’ career, not a single defensive star from Baltimore ever had a more productive career elsewhere. The success of players like Kim Herring, Jamie Sharper, Anthony Weaver, Adalius Thomas and Bart Scott came from the Ravens defensive system, and more importantly, Lewis’ leadership.
If there is ever an example of someone who made those around him better, it is Lewis.
It has been a privilege and joy to be with him throughout his career. We in the Ravens have been very fortunate to be around this great man and player.
The same thing Newsome says here can be uttered by the fans and residents in Baltimore. Lewis is a household name around the country but in Baltimore, he affected plenty of households as well. Whenever Lewis decides to leave and move back to Florida to watch his children play football on a more regular basis, Baltimore will be the worse for it.
Ray Rice said today that “Baltimore is Ray Lewis,” and even though it may sound weird, it’s the truth. A city adopted a young 20-year old child from Florida and in return, he adopted a city.