Many professional athletes will base the success of their careers with numbers. Things such as averages, how many games they’ve won or lose, rankings and records. However sometimes numbers do not give the full essence of an athletes career. Things such as character, leadership, drive and determination are not recorded in the box score in the morning paper but does determine the outcome of the game. Though Ray Lewis does not lack Canton quality numbers, the man he is off the field, translate to the passion he displays on. Personally I believe Ray Lewis is one of the best players to ever play in the NFL regardless of position. His consistent production over his 16 (and counting) years in the league are next to none. As a fellow linebacker however, yes I want to tackle like Ray. Yes I want to make plays like Ray.
At the end of the day however if I could have as much passion and love for the game as Ray, I would call my career a success. The way he motivates his teammates would make Lombardi, the majestic motivator, shiver with adrenaline and excitement during one of Rays pre-game speeches. Ed Reed Rays All Pro teammate has gone on to say, “when Ray talks you listen. No if and or buts about it. I think he (Ray) could make you believe you can go head up against a freight train and wholeheartedly think that train has no chance against you. ”
As a Ray Lewis fan, it was disturbing to see Ray hurt throughout this year and not playing at 100%. Even still with the toe injury, Ray played his best while still motivating his team until the final defeat came against the Patriots. Many analyst, sports writers, Raven fans and myself thought for sure that was Rays last game. He quickly rebuked the rumor about his retirement with that same fire in his eyes he has displayed the past 16 years.
Though it maybe hard to say but, Ray has made a bigger impact off the field than on especially in the city of Baltimore. Hoisting numerous charity events for a notoriously dangerous Baltimore area. His constant outreach to those who need help is quite admirable. The best part is, it is something he loves to do. It is not just a tax write off or just him showing up, he is making a difference. After the Patriots loss, ESPN analyst Chris Berman and Tom Jackson were discussing the legacy of Ray Lewis and what stuck out to me the most was they stated no numbers nor any statistics. To end the segment, Chris Berman closed with this, “Ray Lewis could probably run for mayor in Baltimore and not have a single opponent. No one would run against him, you can’t. And he (Ray) would not win just because his career in the NFL. He would win because of his character and his tremendous ability to lead and motivate. ”
So no need to discuss tackles, interceptions, sacks or any other statistic. Make no mistake about it, RAY LEWIS IS A HALL OF FAMER, first ballot no argument needed but his numbers don’t speak alone for his career. His leadership and his ability to motivate and get the best out of his peers will never be seen throughout the NFL. It will be a sad day when Ray does finally says enough is enough, but it will give him more time to make an even greater impact off the field.