People used to tell Lardarius Webb he was too small and too slow, and wouldn’t accomplish his lofty dreams. But 10 years after the Ravens ignored all that and drafted him, Webb officially retired Saturday with the team that took a chance on him.
Webb, 33, might not have met some of the measurables the Ravens look for, former general manager Ozzie Newsome said, but he had what it took to last nine seasons in the NFL, all with the Ravens, after they picked him in the third round of the 2009 draft.
“You all gave me an opportunity to show the world, to give other little kids that don’t have that size, might not be the fastest, to give them that hope, and say that they can do it‚” Webb said. “Lardarius Webb did it. He was 160-some pounds. My thing was making kids believe. You all gave me an opportunity to let my light shine.”
Webb fought a lot of adversity at the start of his career, tearing his ACL as a rookie and again three years later. But he became one of the best cornerbacks in the league, coach John Harbaugh said. He was also the only player in Ravens history to return a punt, kickoff and interception for a touchdown.
“Even Ed Reed didn’t do that,” Harbaugh said.
Reed, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Aug. 3, was Webb’s role model.
“I love some Ed Reed,” Webb said. “I wore No. 20 in college because I wanted to be like Ed.”
Webb said he observed the way Reed and other Ravens greats such as Ray Lewis worked, studying their playbooks and film, and he tried to do the same so he could be great.
During his nine-year career, Webb had 473 tackles and 15 interceptions, and he ranks 12th in tackles and sixth in interceptions in franchise history. He won a Super Bowl ring and the Ravens’ Ed Block Courage Award.
Webb’s contributions extended into the locker room and community, Harbaugh and Newsome said. Webb worked with the community through the Lardarius Webb Foundation, which sponsored programs such as career and college mentoring for adult males and worked to help underprivileged families.
“You were there for the city of Baltimore,” Harbaugh said to Webb.
Now that he’s no longer playing, Webb is trying to help kids through his company Zone 21. It trains kids in combine-style drills, such as the 40-yard dash, so they know how to run properly before they get to high school.
According to the organization’s website, Zone 21 also features programs such as SAT and ACT practice tests.
About two years into his life after football, Webb is still in shape, thanks to Zone 21 — “I haven’t lost a step. I had to show the kids the drills and everybody thinks they’re faster than me,” he said — but he still misses his teammates.
He misses his coaches, as well, he said, but he really just misses hanging out with “the boys” and being on the field and in the locker room with them.
A large group of “the boys” he misses came out to listen as Webb officially retired. There was a lot of embracing and laughter as they gathered around him before practice started. And as they all walked away, Harbaugh turned around and said, “I expect to see you out there, making some tackles.”