Last week, Ray Lewis was recognized as the 18th greatest player in NFL history, according to the NFL Network. On Wednesday, the Ravens inside linebacker sounded grateful for the recognition, but he also said that ranking shouldn’t be final.
"It's one of the greatest accomplishments you can ever be recognized for," Lewis said. "I mean, you're talking about the greatest of all time, and arguably, anybody can put anybody at No. 1, No. 10, No. 18, whatever. But for them to put me there and me still playing the game, I'll always say this: I don't know how you finish a list if I'm still going. That's always been my thing. You've got me on that list, but I'm still rolling. I love doing what I'm doing. So congrats to a heck of a career that I've really, really, really sacrificed for and dedicated for. But I'm not done yet. So I still have time."
At No. 18, Lewis sits ahead of a pair of future Hall of Famers in Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre (No. 20) and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (21), but he also resides behind guys like San Francisco 49ers safety Ronnie Lott (11), St. Louis Rams defensive end Deacon Jones (15) and Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders (17).
Lewis joked that he has not looked at the names ahead of him because he doesn't want to get riled up.
"I still get mad," he said. "See, then I would get back to feeling how I felt during the draft, like I felt during the draft when I dropped 26 picks, but I'm going to let that go, too. But no, you don't feel bad. There's a lot of great people, and I always go by eras because it's so hard to compare today's times with back-in-the-day's. It's just extremely hard, and so when you see the top 17 and whoever they may be, it's congrats to them. But I always think it's hard to compare eras. I think everybody was great in their time."
Lewis didn't deny that his objective is to sit atop the rankings ("That's the only reason you play the game," he said. "That's why I'm still playing."), but he said that's not his first priority.
"I'm not trying to move up," Lewis said. "I really am not. Bottom line is, I'm trying to get my team another championship. That's it. That's the only reason I play this game. … Individually, they can leave me wherever I'm at. But if I win another ring, then I'll make myself No. 1."
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