There were so many plays to remember about Baltimore’s Ray Lewis, now a member of the Hall-of-Fame Class of 2018. But was there one in particular during his 17-year pro career that stands out?
That’s the question we posed to the man who drafted him, Baltimore GM Ozzie Newsome, and Newsome — a Hall-of-Famer himself — had to pause before answering.
But when he did, he dug deep — offering one that, as he put it, “defined” Lewis as a Hall-of-Fame player and the Ravens as a premier defense and ballclub.
“I guess it would’ve been on that Super Bowl run (in 2000),” Newsome said on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast, “where he was in coverage on (Tennessee running back) Eddie George, and he and Eddie George had been battling the whole game.
“At a critical time they tried to stick one in there, and Ray intercepted the ball. And it basically won that game for us. So I think that one defined him and defined us as a football team and set us on that path to win a Super Bowl.”
Rewind the videotape, and you’ll find the Ravens ahead 17-10 with just under seven minutes left when Lewis snatches a pass that ricochets out of George’s hands and runs 50 yards for a touchdown and a 24-10 victory.
As Newsome said, it set the Ravens on a path to win their first Super Bowl, with Baltimore outscoring four playoff opponents 95-23 and overwhelming the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV where Lewis was named the game’s MVP.
“One of the best games I’ve ever seen a middle linebacker play,” said Newsome.
But we didn’t stop there. We wanted to know if there was one memory — on the field or off — that Newsome treasured when he thought of Lewis … and there was. But it wasn’t that Tennessee game. Instead, Newsome went in another direction.
“I would have to say this: Mr. Modell (former Ravens and Browns’ owner Art Modell) was not doing very well (in later years),” Newsome said, “and so we were going to introduce Mr. Modell out on the field. And to see the hug that he and Ray had …
“Because we know what happened in 2000, at the ’99 Super Bowl and so forth (when Lewis was implicated in a double homicide), and how Mr. Modell had stood behind him and how Ray had rewarded him for doing it by the way he conducted himself and the way he played on the field. But when the two of them embraced it was just something special.”
Modell passed away in September, 2012, and the Ravens went on to win the Super Bowl that season, holding off San Francisco in what was Lewis’ last game.