This offseason, thousands of fans voted in our "Team For the Ages" contest to construct the best imaginable 50-man roster from the NFL’s modern era, which began in 1967. The votes have been counted, and we’re unveiling one player each weekday between now and the kickoff of the 2018 NFL season.
Ravens LB Ray Lewis
There might never be a linebacker like Lewis again. The 26th pick in the 1996 draft entered the NFL a respected but undersized hitter, but he left it — despite major injuries, off-field controversy and a changing game — one of the great defensive players of his or of any generation.
They said it
“From the minute he arrived, he was just different. Never saw anything like him. We knew he was special from Day 1. [The Ravens veterans] recognized right away Ray’s ability. And they recognized his maturity, too — especially for a 20-year-old.”
— Marvin Lewis, Ray Lewis’ first defensive coordinator
Lewis became the first player in history with 40 sacks and 30 interceptions. Lewis’ 50 career takeaways (19 forced fumbles, 31 INTs) are second-most among NFL linebackers since the 1970 merger.
Did you know?
Remember the infamous deer antler spray? Lewis suffered a torn triceps in 2012, his final season in the NFL, and there was real doubt about whether he could return. Lewis reportedly looked into using the spray, which contained a banned substance, to speed up his recovery. But no guilt was discovered, and he helped the Ravens win Super Bowl XLVII in his final NFL game.
His final home game came in his first game back after missing the last 10 regular-season contests. Lewis took one snap at fullback on the final play of the wildcard win over the Colts, allowing him to be on the field for the final play of his last game at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
There’s no other choice but Super Bowl XXXV. Lewis was the league’s Defensive Player of the Year that 2000 season, and he capped it with a performance for the ages in a 34-7 blowout over the Giants. Lewis earned game MVP honors — the second player in league history to do that after winning DPOY the same season — with five tackles and four passes defended. He was everywhere on the field in the Ravens’ dominant defensive performance, securing the franchise’s first championship.
Previous "Team for the Ages" player announcements