Jamal Lewis' rugged style of football first caught the eye of general manager Ozzie Newsome after getting a tip from former Ravens scouting executive Phil Savage.
Newsome later watched the future Ravens first-round draft pick run roughshod over his beloved Alabama Crimson Tide for the Tennessee Volunteers.
And, as a precocious 21-year-old rookie nearly one year later, Lewis contributed 103 yards and one touchdown during the Ravens' Super Bowl XXXV victory over the New York Giants.
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Now, Lewis will be inducted into the Ravens' Ring of Honor during a Sept. 27 game against the Cleveland Browns.
"The reason why we were able to win the Super Bowl in 2000 was because of Jamal Lewis," Newsome said during a Monday press conference at the Ravens' training complex. "I think the reason we didn't win in 2001 was that Jamal got hurt and we weren't able to replace him."
A former NFL Offensive Player of the Year who rushed for 2,066 yards during the 2003 season for the second-best single-season total behind Eric Dickson, Lewis played a decade in the NFL and is the Ravens' all-time leading rusher with 7,801 yards and 45 touchdowns.
"It will be a great feeling, probably a very emotional one," Lewis said. "I'm very honored, it's just a great deal and a good way to go out. I never thought 12 years ago that we would be doing this, but here it is and I take it all in deeply. This is where it all started. It was a lot of memories made here."
At a powerful 5-foot-11, 245 pounds, Lewis built a reputation for bulldozing tacklers and being fast enough to run away from the defense to finish runs as a home run hitter.
"My dad always told me: 'Be the hitter," Lewis said. "It's more of an intimidation factor. It feels good to hear a guy say that you were tough to play against and being able to grind it out and just not be stopped. That was pretty much my style, to run you over rather than run around you. I always felt that I was a defensive player playing on offense. I always ended up hanging around linebackers because I wasn't the finesse type of guy."
Lewis, 32, has dealt with off-field adversity, including serving four months in federal prison after pleading guilty in 2005 to a using a cellular phone to facilitate a cocaine deal.
Lewis filed for bankruptcy in Georgia in April.
The former NFL player was arrested and charged with child abandonment in August, describing the legal episode in a statement at the time as a misunderstanding rather than being an unfit parent.
Lewis is among the many former NFL players involved in pending concussion litigation against the league.
"Health-wise, doing pretty good, but I still feel a few old pains," Lewis said. "Due to the whole lawsuit issue, I really can't go too much into that. Those things are being worked out. I'm not getting up falling out of bed every morning, I can tell you that."
Outside linebackers improving
Following a rough season opener where they failed to set the edge consistently, outside linebackers Albert McClellan and Courtney Upshaw upgraded their play against the Philadelphia Eagles.
During a 24-23 loss at Lincoln Financial Field, both players contributed to limiting Eagles running back LeSean McCoy to 81 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries for an average of 3.2 yards per carry.
"The outside 'backers played pretty well for the most part," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "If you look at the downside, we had some issues in coverage. We jumped some scrambles, jumped some routes occasionally, but they both set the edge well. They were both very physical out there, applied some pressure in pass rush. So, there were some good things."
McClellan recorded a career-high six tackles, including two tackles for losses, a pass deflection and a fumble recovery.
"I think I played pretty good, better than what I did before," McClellan said. "I'm getting more comfortable. The game is starting to slow down for me now."