Former Ravens teammates, coaches and more on new Hall of Famer Ray Lewis

Ray Lewis’ former teammates, coaches and front-office executives with the Ravens on the first-ballot Hall of Fame middle linebacker:

» STEVE BISCIOTTI (Ravens owner):

“Obviously, there is nobody more deserving. He made people around him better, which is the greatest compliment that you can give anybody in football, and he clearly was that guy.”

» OZZIE NEWSOME (Fellow Hall of Famer and Ravens general manager/executive vice president):

“For 17 years, we could point to No. 52 and tell the other players: ‘Follow his lead. Practice like Ray practices. Prepare like Ray prepares. Be a great teammate like him.’ It was our privilege to have him as a Raven. We are all better for having him here. His play on game days speaks for itself. Even in that small group who have the honor of being a Hall of Famer, Ray stands out. When you talk about the great players of all time, no matter position, he is among the greatest of the great.”

» JOHN HARBAUGH (Ravens head coach):

“Ray represented Ravens football perfectly. He established what it means to ‘play like a Raven,’ which has become a standard we believe in and our fans understand. It was an honor to coach Ray on the field and to maintain our friendship off it. I'm wishing Ray and his family many blessings during his Hall of Fame journey, as I know he walks in faith and will always remember that we walk together as Super Bowl champions.”

» BRIAN BILLICK (Former Ravens head coach):

“What the fans saw of Ray Lewis on Sundays is what we saw every day, every meeting, every workout, every practice – that unabridged passion for the game and excellence. We congratulate him on what is truly a worthy Hall of Fame induction.”

» CATHERINE E. PUGH (Baltimore Mayor)

“In addition to being a truly great athlete, Ray Lewis cares deeply about his city — Baltimore. He understands that our best hope for creating a more promising future begins with inspiring our young people. He cares deeply, he gives of himself generously and he points the way to what is possible with hard work, relentless dedication and care for one another. Congratulations Ray — we’re so very proud of you!”

» ROD WOODSON (Fellow Hall of Famer and former Ravens safety):

“What needs to be said about a guy who was, by far, the best leader I witnessed in my 17 years of play? Not only a great leader to the whole team, but a mentor to teammates and players on other teams – and those playing other pro sports. (People would be amazed at the athletes being mentored by Ray today.) His singular focus to be the best player and teammate he could be separates him from other Hall of Famers. So unselfish. So selfless. The passion we all saw was real. He’s relentless. It is who he is. His play was off the charts, a virtual tackling machine — and a playmaker. He caused fumbles, recovered fumbles, interceptions, tipped passes. He did it all for longer than anyone who played his spot in the middle. If possible, he got better with age. His attitude and effort remained the highest, but his knowledge increased with all his study. Even as a young player, he would call out the plays the offense was about to run. He could play so fast, and with such confidence, because he knew what was about to happen.”

» MAXIE BAUGHAN (Lewis' first linebackers coach with the Ravens):

“I couldn’t believe he wasn’t drafted earlier. We got Jonathan [Ogden] and I was afraid that they were going to look at somebody else, but I kept selling Ray all the way through. When it got down to our turn, I kind of made an ass out of myself. I stood up and I said, 'I’m not going to sit down until we draft Ray Lewis.' We got it done. Ted [Marchibroda] and Ozzie, they were supportive of Ray. It was nothing to do with Ray’s ability, but they were looking at other people and positions. I said, ‘We got to draft this guy.’ ”

» SHANNON SHARPE (Fellow Hall of Famer and former Ravens tight end):

“Before we get to his play, Ray is the greatest leader in team sports history. No one is even close. His resume as a player speaks for itself, but I’ll add this: He dominated in two eras of football. In the first half of his career, when the run game was the most prominent, he was a beast. Extraordinary. He single-handedly shut down great backs like Jerome Bettis, Eddie George and Fred Taylor. When the passing game became the way teams regularly moved the ball, he was spectacular. Teams didn’t run screens against him. Receivers became reluctant to come across his view, and his speed allowed him to take away shallow and deep parts of the middle of the field. I saw all of this as a teammate with him and playing against him. No inside linebacker in the history of the game has the resume of the man I call ‘Suga.’ ”

» MARVIN LEWIS (Former Ravens defensive coordinator):

“I tell other players that Ray was once the best player on a bad team, but all he ever wanted to do was turn that team into a great team. Ray was a great leader, but the other great players he played with were enablers. Ray would absorb so much from guys like Rod Woodson, Shannon Sharpe and Ben Coates. He would take from them and that helped him become more of a leader. Ray never walked behind anyone, he was always out front.”

» ED REED (Former Ravens safety):

“This guy’s the ultimate professional — studied tape like no other, would do anything for one of his teammates. Ain’t much when it comes to football he wasn’t going to do. Ray was a Hall of Famer when I met him, man. I was blown away at how he studied tape and what he thinks about football. If he could have gotten all 53 guys to work out with him in the offseason, he would have done that, to make sure if there was anything he could do, he did do it.”

» PETER BOULWARE (Former Ravens linebacker):

“He never got in a fight because people had that kind of respect for him. No one could match his emotion or intensity. Who in their right mind was going to fight Ray Lewis? They were afraid of him. People looked up to Ray, even those who played against him. In the locker room, we knew he was a state champion [wrestler]. He was a tough guy.”

» JONATHAN OGDEN (Fellow Hall of Famer and former Ravens offensive tackle):

“It’s pretty clear Ray was the heart and soul of the Ravens for 17 years. If anyone is deserving of this honor, it’s Ray Lewis. He is a guy we all looked to — both on offense and defense — to lead our team. He was definitely the catalyst for our 2000 Super Bowl team, and throughout the years, he helped define what it means to be a Raven. As the first two draft picks in Ravens history, Ray and I came in with the same mentality that we were determined to create something special. From the beginning, the bond we shared was incredibly special. That connection is even stronger now, as everything has come full circle, and we’re able to stand side by side in the Hall of Fame.”

» DICK CASS (Ravens team president):

“I remember when we had the parade after the last Super Bowl and how the crowd just swamped Ray. He was sort of the star of that parade. Obviously, it was his last season in the NFL, and I remember the emotions that surrounded his last game at M&T Bank Stadium in the wild-card round of the playoffs. And then they really just celebrated him and gravitated toward him during the parade. It was quite a crowd, and you could see how his star power carried on right up to the end of his career. That made the Super Bowl all the more special.”

» RAY RICE (Former Ravens running back):

“It was one thing to watch him on TV, when you had your childhood dreams and your dream of making it to the NFL. Obviously, you watched Ray Lewis over the course of his career. So when I first got to the Ravens, it was like surreal, because every kid, everyone, knew who Ray Lewis was. It was very special when he actually took a liking to me and liked my approach to the game. He kind of showed me things on how to take care of my body, how to be a professional, and it was just humbling for a guy like that to step out of his shell and see a young guy come in and take you under his wing, put his arm around you and help you out along your career."

» REX RYAN (Former Ravens defensive coordinator):

“He is the Baltimore Ravens. When you look at it, it’s Ray Lewis. There’s a statue out there for good reason. That is the Baltimore Ravens. His legacy and everything he built — we always say we built, but really it was Ray more than any of us — it’s that tradition of defense and how it was going to be played. And you feel like his presence is still felt there, the way they play defense and the pride they take in that unit.”

» BERNARD POLLARD (Former Ravens safety):

“Ray’s passion is unbelievable. I think he’s a pillar of what people saw in Baltimore’s defense or with the Baltimore Ravens, period. Ray is the first thing that comes up when you say Baltimore. It’s exciting and a blessing to experience a few years of my career with him, playing alongside of him. He deserves it. He’s a man that put it on the line every single game and he helped build something. You look at that style of football, it ain’t really there no more. A lot of guys tried to be like Ray Lewis. A lot of linebackers tried to be like Ray Lewis. He touched a lot of people.”

» LIONEL VITAL (Ravens area scout in Florida who suggested to the team's decision makers that they take a longer look at Lewis):

"I don’t know if you could coach him. The coach, I think just kind of hopped on. I’ve never seen a player like that. You just hop on and keep your mouth shut as he takes over the locker room. The coaches respected him enough to allow him to do that. They don’t do that with too many players. He one of two or three guys that I’ve been around that that when they walk in there, the coaches just kind of get out of the way and don’t want to touch anything. After Ray said it, nothing else had to be said.”

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