In Celebration of Ray Lewis, the Greatest One-Man Show of All-Time
By: The Football Girl | Posted: January 02, 2013
Is Ray Lewis the greatest inside linebacker of all time? That is the question of the day after Lewis, 37, announced plans to retire after the playoffs. The seven time All-Pro linebacker’s ride could end as early as this Sunday when the Ravens host the Colts during Wild Card weekend.
Back to that G.O.A.T question. The Big Lead’s Jason Lisk took an interesting in-depth look at Lewis versus his competition back in October. Lisk’s opinion, also the consensus, is that Lewis’ longevity gives him the edge. As Lisk points out no Hall of Fame linebackers were still playing into their late-30’s. Jack Lambert retired at 32; Dick Butkus at 31. Inside linebackers tend to physically deteriorate in a hurry so Lewis is a special breed for enduring so much wear and tear and playing at an elite level for so many years.
Most contemporary players and younger media members will quickly name Lewis as the greatest of all time. But some are not so quick to anoint. Former ESPN.com writer Amanda Rykoff took to Facebook to declare her lack of enthusiasm about Lewis and his retirement announcement. “There were great football players before him, there will be great football players after him,” said Rykoff.
I tend to not get wrapped up in G.O.A.T. arguments. While it would be ideal to pit different generations against each other (a la Rocky vs. Mason Dixon), that is not reality. If I were forced to decide I would always tend to think the more modern the player, the better, based on increased size and speed. Although one interesting note: linebacker is one position that did not undergo a major physical metamorphosis between the 70’s and last decade. But so many other positions did that the GOAT argument becomes apples and oranges, one of individual eras, not eternity.
This is a day to celebrate Lewis and his accomplishments, one of which has been the greatest self-promoter in history. I mean that with all due respect. The man somehow transformed himself from someone charged with murder before the 2000 Super Bowl into a media darling. (Lewis later avoided murder charges and jail time by pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges and testifying against two co-defenders). What actually happened that night in Atlanta remains a mystery.) Lewis is the perfect player for the modern media era, one who gives a biting quote during the week, which is circulated worldwide in a nanosecond, and backs it up with his signature dance under the Raven-adorned tunnel onto the field and motivational pregame chanting. Not to mention his speed and monster presence in the middle and atop opposing quarterbacks. Lewis and his talent, both on and off the field, were made for HD and an ever-increasing NFL television audience. Believe me, the red carpet to an analyst job has already been laid out.
I don’t know if Lewis is the greatest of all time as an inside linebacker, but I would vote for him in an instant for greatest one-man show of all-time. All football fans will miss him. Even Steelers fans.