It’s been well documented entering the 2013 season about what the Baltimore Ravens lost in leadership, with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed gone. For years, Lewis has been the face of the franchise and in some ways still is. But if there is one constant with the Ravens, we will hear plenty more about leading men from someone named Ray. This Ray is Ray Rice. Rice recently spoke to USA Today about the void and the challenges that face the Ravens, and he’s welcoming it.
“A leadership role is something I definitely don’t mind taking upon now, because I was mentored by one of the greatest leaders probably ever to play the game in Ray Lewis.”
Everyone from the outside saw the speeches and thought Lewis was all about the camera. But it’s more important for people to understand that what Lewis was preaching was working. If there is anything that can’t be denied about the Ravens, it’s the fact that players are very vocal and have no problem telling it like it is.
If Lewis was thought to be a phony in the locker room, word would have gotten out by now. But the fact that former Ravens like Shannon Sharpe, Rod Woodson, and current Ravens like Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata, and Joe Flacco, for example, have had so much respect for Lewis says a lot. Reed, in his 11 seasons with Ravens, was known as second in command of the entire locker room, and he has so much respect for Lewis while Lewis has the same for Reed.
“A lot of his leading was by example, and when he spoke, everybody listened because they had that respect for him. So I think being a leader comes with how much respect people have for you. These guys look at the way I work and they understand that my actions are going to show on the field.”
Many will look at these statements by Rice as an indictment on Flacco. The fact of the matter is there is nothing wrong with having plenty of leaders. That’s what the Ravens organization is striving for. That’s why the Ravens scout and draft players that have leadership skills in college. They want everyone to be a leader so they can hold themselves accountable. Ngata and Suggs will hold down the fort on defense, while Flacco and Rice will do the same on offense.
Wola Odeniran is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter at WolaOdeniran52.