I chose my words wisely with the title because of the greatness that Art Modell displayed throughout his life. His contributions to the NFL, Cleveland and the city of Baltimore are parallel to no one on the list of Ravens Ring of Honor Inductees. However, when the Baltimore Ravens come to mind, one player’s name rushes to the forefront of our thoughts. That name is Ray Lewis.
Lewis put a stamp of hard-nose smash-mouth football in Baltimore. The intensity he displayed was something Baltimore has never seen. He not only inspired his teammates to be great, he has mentored numerous players throughout the league. After 17 years of representing one of the NFL’s most memorable defenses, Lewis has decided to go out on top after winning Super Bowl XLVII. There are 15 other names in the Ring of Honor. The three most notable names on the list are Art Modell, Johnny Unitas and Jonathan Ogden. With Lewis’ induction come September 22, he will be the greatest former player to ever be honored.
This point is debatable, but let’s look it at all of the prerequisites to become part of Baltimore’s Ring. They are: character, gratitude, vision, faith, courage and competitive spirit. Lewis at some point in career has displayed one or more of these traits. The main reason I chose Lewis over Unitas, Ogden and others as the best is because there should be another trait added to the list that Ray Lewis displayed. That trait is resiliency.
Lewis’ ability to recover from off the field issues, big-game losses and “father time” to will his team to the franchise’s first and now second Super Bowl victory is why he is not only a projected first-ballot future Hall Of Famer, but the top player to ever be inducted into the Ravens Ring Of Honor. No past Raven is more deserving of this honor than Lewis. Although it will be a wonderful sight to see his name in the ring, it’s almost heartbreaking that we will not see him dancing out of the tunnel during the home games. The fans of Baltimore will be forever grateful for all he has done for that city, for that team and for this game.