Is Ray Lewis The Greatest NFL Player Of All Time?

  • Can You Make The Argument That Ray Lewis Is The Greatest Football Player Of All Time?

If you ask most people who the greatest football player of all time was, they’ll probably name a quarterback. Joe Montana is the most likely answer. It’s a question that really has no right or wrong answers. But it makes for a great debate. So with that in mind, can we consider Ray Lewis to be the greatest NFL player ever?

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Ray Lewis played for the Baltimore Ravens from 1996-2012. He walked off into the sunset after winning his second Super Bowl. He was named the defensive player of the year twice. He went to 13 Pro Bowls and was the Super Bowl XXXV MVP.

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Lewis is also one of the few players that was the face of a franchise for over a decade. Lewis was the heart and soul of the Ravens. There’s a reason there is a statue of him outside M&T Bank Stadium. Lewis built the Ravens personality.

I admit that I am biased. I grew up a Ravens fan. Ray Lewis was one of my childhood heroes. Looking at the facts of the matter, Lewis was incredible. He made plays all over the field. He totaled 1,336 total tackles, 41.5 sacks, 31 interceptions and he scored three defensive touchdowns. Lewis did things on the football field that were truly amazing. There have been many great linebackers, none of them were as incredible as Lewis.

In his prime Lewis was something the NFL had never seen. He was a linebacker with sideline to sideline speed. He was everywhere. He knew what was going to happen before it did. Lewis was so instinctual that it almost felt like he was a Jedi Knight using the force.

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Number 52 intimidated the opposition. He got in their heads. Opponents of the Ravens knew that they had to account for him, but they seldom knew how. In an age where quarterbacks rule the world, Lewis was a game-changer at the linebacker position. He willed the Ravens to many victories.

It’s hard to forget the iconic chess matches between Lewis and Peyton Manning. In all the theatrical adjustments made by the Colts and the Ravens, you saw a battle between the two sharpest minds in the game. Manning is known as the football genius, the overly prepared cerebral QB. Lewis showed that he had every ounce of football savvy that Manning did. Manning is another player that could be considered the greatest of all-time.

Perhaps the greatest example of his instincts comes from one of Lewis’s most bone crushing hits. It’s 4th & 2 for the San Diego Chargers; the game is on the line. Lewis flies through the line of scrimmage immediately. A split second after Darren Sproles took the football from Phillip Rivers, he was on the ground. Lewis read the play a mile away. He took a chance based on film study and his feel for the big moment. The Ravens were victorious

When Lewis was in the prime of his career he had a rival. His name was Eddie George, a Heisman Trophy winner. George was one of the greatest backs in the league. The Tennessee Titans relied heavily on the tough running of George. He seemed unstoppable…until Lewis stopped him.

One iconic play happened during the Ravens march to their first Super Bowl. Steve McNair threw a pass to Eddie George. Lewis snagged it, stealing the football from George. Lewis scored the touchdown that broke the Titans’ will. It was a once in a lifetime play by a once in a lifetime player.

What Lewis meant to the Ravens can’t be quantifiable. You cannot just look at the stats and add up the impact. When Lewis did his dance, the entire stadium erupted. When he announced his “last ride” it made the Ravens desperate to win Super Bowl XLVII. Some people can’t stand the uncontrollable passion he has. But that passion meant an awful lot to the Ravens and their fans.

At the end of the day there are a handful of players that have earned a spot in this discussion. From Joe Montana and Jerry Rice to, Lawrence Taylor and Walter Payton, there are great players to choose from.You can make an argument for each and every one of them. For what it is worth, this is the argument for the best player in Ravens history.

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Lewis was a legend of the game. He absolutely deserves consideration for the title of greatest player of all time. Hopefully I have you at least convinced of his merit. There has never been a player who meant more to his team than Ray Lewis. He is surely a legend of the game, no matter where you rank him.