By Matt Vensel
10:15 AM EDT, May 26, 2011
Matt Stover will announce his retirement from the NFL on Thursday, formally ending the memorable career of one of the greatest players in Ravens history. The oh-so steady kicker coolly booted field goal after field goal for 13 years in Baltimore, and the Ravens wouldn’t have won Super Bowl XXXV without him.
For that, Stover is one of the most beloved figures in franchise history -- you will never hear a former teammate or a diehard fan refer to him as just a wimpy kicker -- and he will soon be added to the team’s Ring of Honor.
But if we were to create a Mount Rushmore of Ravens legends -- heck, we know owner Steve Bisciotti has the passion and the Benjamin Franklins to make something like that happen -- would Stover’s youthful face be one of the four we chiseled up on our Mount Ravemore? He would certainly be in the conversation.
We know Ray Lewis and Jonathan Ogden are locks. They were the first two picks in Ravens history. They were cornerstones of the 2000 championship team. And they both enjoyed Hall-of-Fame careers in Baltimore. Art Modell, who brought NFL football back to Baltimore, deserves a spot up there as well.
The fourth and final spot makes for a great debate.
Safety Ed Reed, another Canton-bound Raven, should get consideration. Ditto for outside linebacker Peter Boulware, cornerback Chris McAlister and running back Jamal Lewis, who like Stover helped the Ravens win a Super Bowl. But they don’t have the Hall-of-Fame credentials of the bearded ballhawk.
And then there is former head coach Brian Billick, who steered the Ravens to their only Lombardi Trophy (even though some of his critics will argue that the ship steered itself). The cerebral coach compiled an 80-64 regular-season record in his nine years in Baltimore and won that Super Bowl in his second season.
I can’t say that there is a wrong answer here -- unless you throw out a wacky name like Stoney Case or Frank Walker -- but my Mount Ravemore would be Lewis, Odgen, Modell and Reed (with the added bonus of having his big, bushy beard on that mountain).
Steady Stover would be the first runner-up.
Your turn: Would Stover make it onto your Mount Ravemore?
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