Five years ago on February 3, 2013, Ray Lewis played his last game for the Baltimore Ravens. Unlike many legends that came before him, Lewis had the honor of raising the Lombardi Trophy above his head as he exited the game of football.
Despite an unforeseen blackout, the Ravens were able to hold on to their lead and defeat the San Francisco 49ers 34-31 with a last-minute goal line stand. This would end up being one of many story book moments in Lewis’ illustrious career, but it is the one many fans will remember most as Lewis was announced as a NFL Hall of Fame inductee on the five-year anniversary of the game.
During his 17 year career Lewis suited up in 228 games for the Ravens. He accumulated 1,562 tackles, 41.5 sacks and 31 interceptions. To this day, these numbers stand as some of the best for a middle linebacker. However, the stats are only part of his legacy. Lewis was also awarded the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award twice (2000, 2003) and named to the All-Pro team in ten of his 17 seasons.
Known for his intense passion and motivational pre-game speeches, Lewis was all about leading his team. His two Super Bowl wins (2000, 2012) will stand the test of time as the true mark of his leadership. The 12 year gap between those victories stands as the longest for any player in NFL history and it’s hard to imagine the Ravens reaching either of those Super Bowl’s without Lewis. This was recognized in 2000 when Lewis was awarded the MVP award for the Ravens first Super Bowl in franchise history.
Joining Lewis in the class of 2018 will be Terrell Owens, Brian Urlacher, Randy Moss, Brian Dawkins, Jerry Kramer, Bobby Beathard and Robert Brazille. There was no shortage of worthy players for this years Hall of Fame class. Some even thought that there could be some notable snubs due to the number of worthy first ballot candidates joining the list for consideration. In the end the committee seems to have made room for everyone and the result is one of the most star-studded classes in recent history.
It will be a special moment to see Lewis and Urlacher get inducted in the same year since they were compared to each other throughout their careers and finished with similar numbers. The same could be said about Moss and Owens who continue to spark debate among fans as to who was the better receiver.
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