The most productive running back in Ravens history is slated to be in purple and black for a long, long time.
The Ravens will induct running back Jamal Lewis, the leading rusher in franchise history, into their Ring of Honor before their Week 4 game this season. The induction will take place before the Ravens host the rival Cleveland Browns on Thursday, Sept. 27 -- a primetime game on NFL Network -- at M&T Bank Stadium.
“To go into the Ring of Honor, it just shows that I’ll always be a Raven,” Lewis said Tuesday afternoon.
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Lewis rushed for 7,801 yards in his six seasons in a Ravens uniform, including a single-season team record 2,066 yards in 2003, when the Associated Press named him NFL Offensive Player of the Year. One of the most meaningful of his accomplishments came in his rookie year when Lewis, the fifth overall pick in 2000, rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown as the Ravens steamrolled the New York Giants, 34-7, in Super Bowl XXXV.
“When I first came out of college, Art Modell and Steve Bisciotti gave me the chance to go out there and prove my ability,” he said. “Everybody else pretty much had questions, you know. But I fell into a good family, we went on a Super Bowl run that year and won. It was a very memorable part of my career. And I love the time that I had in Baltimore. Art Modell and Steve Bisciotti were great owners and great role models.”
Lewis, who retired following the 2009 season after playing three seasons for the Browns, will join Modell; former Ravens players Earnest Byner, Michael McCrary, Peter Boulware, Jonathan Ogden, and Matt Stover; and eight former Baltimore Colts -- including Johnny Unitas -- in the Ring of Honor at M&T Bank Stadium.
The plan to honor Lewis started to be put in place last fall.
Lewis attended a practice in Baltimore last season to discuss a business opportunity with Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti. “Steve has always been a good, good, good friend of mine and we always kept in touch after I left in Baltimore,” Lewis said. And Bisciotti told Lewis that he deserved to be put in the Ring of Honor and that the Ravens wanted to do it sometime in 2012 (one of the team’s primetime games seemed like an obvious choice).
Lewis said that before he left the practice, Bisciotti rounded up all the Ravens players to share the big news.
“It was a great honor to be introduced in front of a squad that was on a Super Bowl run at the time,” he said.
Soon, in a couple of months, Lewis will be introduced as a Raven again in front of more than 70,000 adoring fans.