The Ravens Ring of Honor has become somewhat of a joke. In fact, it has been a joke since its first inductee was announced in 2001 – Ernest Byner.
Ask NFL fans across the country what is the first thing they think of when the name Ernest Byner is mentioned and most will recall his infamous fumble in the 1987 AFC Championship Game while a member of the Browns facing the Denver Broncos. Google Byner’s name – go ahead. The second search item that pops up is “The Fumble.”
For those fans who are kinder, they will remember Byner as a significant contributor to the Browns in the mid-late 80’s and to the Redskins during the late 80’s and early 90’s.
Virtually no one outside the Baltimore Metropolitan Area will remember Byner as a Raven.
Yet he’s the inaugural inductee into the Ravens Ring of Honor.
Few will argue that Art Modell’s choice of Byner as the leadoff hitter for the Ring was a colossal mistake!
Were the Ravens so hard up to create the Ring that they started it with a guy who averaged 3.9 yards/carry on 274 attempts over a 2 year period?
To borrow from Brian Billick, this egregious mistake has influenced all subsequent inductees into the Ring and even worse it cheapens the distinction.
Today any retired Raven with significant contributions during the Ravens brief history, gets the red carpet treatment and a placard with their name on it to be hung and displayed for the world to see at M&T Bank Stadium.
With the bar set so low given Byner as the standard, Steve Bisciotti better start working on plans to build a bigger stadium because that ROH is going to get crowded real soon.
Next up is Jamal Lewis.
Lewis is the best running back that has ever worn a Ravens uniform. Without him the Ravens might not have won Super Bowl XXXV. And with Byner as your benchmark, obviously Lewis deserves his place among the other inductees.
But let’s be honest here, there should only be three names in that Ring today: Art Modell, Jonathan Ogden and Matt Stover.
To be considered for the Ring, a player should at least garnish some consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Will players such as Peter Boulware and Michael McCrary, undoubtedly big contributors to the Ravens’ cause in their day, excite the voting committee in Canton, Ohio?
I don’t think so!
Other former Ravens who will also receive serious consideration for the Ring such as Derrick Mason, Kelly Gregg and Todd Heap – great Ravens no doubt, but are they worthy of the Ring?
Nor is Jamal Lewis.
Not if I had my way.
What do you think? Does Jamal deserve to be in the ROH? Cast your vote in our poll above.