Before he established himself as the Ravens starting nose tackle, Kelly Gregg was public enemy No. 1 in Baltimore. A backup trying to make the team in 2001, Gregg collided with star running back Jamal Lewis during a training camp practice. Lewis suffered an ACL tear and was lost for the season, an injury that severely damaged the Ravens’ hopes of repeating as Super Bowl champions.
Two years later, with Gregg having established himself as one of the NFL’s better nose tackles and a fan favorite because of his hardworking “Buddy Lee” persona, Lewis set a single-game NFL record by rushing for 295 yards against the Cleveland Browns.
“I looked up in the stands of the stadium and I saw my dad drinking a cold beer and I thought, ‘Man, that’s awesome,’” Gregg said. “That’s the one thing I always go back to. Jamal was just killing the Browns and I just remember looking up and there’s my dad. That’s my best memory in my career.”
Gregg played for the Ravens from 2001 to 2010 and made 721 tackles, third on the team’s all-time list. His success in Baltimore came after he had been let go by the Philadelphia Eagles and Cincinnati Bengals.
“I could never pass the eye test. I was always the guy, ‘Yeah, he’s a good player, let’s stash him on the practice squad.’ But the Ravens, once they got comfortable with me and I showed them that I can do it, man, they just said, ‘Hey, we’re taking the bubble wrap off you and you’re going to play,’” Gregg said. “That’s one thing that I always thought. Baltimore, there’s no foo-foo football. They didn’t care what you looked like getting off the bus, just as long as you could play when you’re on the field.”
— Jeff Zrebiec