Originally posted on The Sports Headquarters  |  Last updated 10/19/12
This article will be rather simple. I’ll state facts and fools will try to dance around those facts with erroneous opinions laced with hate fueled emotions. People who denounce this article will say I’m “living in the moment” or that I “don’t know my history” and a bunch of other nonsense to cover up their envy. To cover up their jealousy. To cover up their sadness and tears. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that Ray Lewis is the greatest middle linebacker who has ever played the game. You know what, that’s a cop out. Ray Lewis the best linebacker to ever play football. Period. And I am writing this because his recent tricep injury may cost him the remainder of his career. I hope it doesn’t, but speculation is looming. If in fact we have seen Lewis take the field for the last time, he is to be honored. If he does make it back out there for another Sunday, which I’m almost positive he will, then this article is still valid. Because there is nothing Ray Lewis can do to change the fact that he is already the greatest linebacker of all time. If anything, that’s an understatement. Let’s start with the tangibles… Throughout his 17-year career (most all time for a middle linebacker by the way), Lewis was a 13-time Pro Bowler. I’d say that’s a decent amount of trips to Hawaii. Lewis was a seven-time AP First Team All Pro. In addition, Lewis was a three-time AP Second Team All Pro. Those 10 total All Pro selections tie him with Lawrence Taylor for the most all time for a linebacker. His 227 games started are the most all time for an inside linebacker. Lewis owns the record for most interception return yards for an insider backer with 503. He was the fastest member to the 20 interception/20 sack club, clocking in at 113 games. He was the fastest member to the 30 interception/30 sack club in 204 games. Ray Lewis is the ONLY member of the 40 sack/30 interception club. Lewis is a two-time AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year as well as a three-time AFC Defensive Player of the Year. Oh yeah, he’s won a Super Bowl and was named MVP for said Super Bowl… That has to hold some weight somewhere, I think. You want to know why Ray Lewis is the best though? In his 17th NFL season, his absence could be the difference between just a regular playoff team and a Super Bowl contender. Dispite the fact that he was drafted in 1996, his presence on the field and in the locker room means that much to this defense that they may not be able to recover from his loss. Sure, Ladarius Webb is one of the better cornerbacks in the league and his loss is massive as well. Sure, the Ravens are getting T-Sizzle back as early as this weekend. But neither of them are Ray Lewis. Netiher of them get their teammates going before the game starts. Neither of them have a Super Bowl ring. Just for ***** and giggles, let’s look at that 1996 first round class just to put into perspective how ridiculous Lewis’ truly is to be as important as he is 17 years later… #1 Pick: Keyshawn Johnson. Retired: May 2007 #2 Pick: Kevin Hardy (So-called “Best LB in ’96 Draft” per scouts): CUT May 2005 #3 Pick: Simeon Rice. 100 sack club. CUT November 2007. #7 Pick: Terry Glenn. Asshole WR. CUT July 2008. (Didn’t realize he was still playing past 2000) #14 Pick: Eddie George. 10,000 yard rusher. Retired: 2005. #19 Pick: Marvin Harrison. 14,000 yards & 125+ TDs. Retired: post-2008 season. #24 Pick: Eric Moulds. SICK PICK BUFFALOLOL. Retired: post-2007 season. #26 Pick: Ray G.O.A.T. Lewis. Retired…. Hasn’t even considered it. Now while I can sit here and rip all of those teams for missing out on the greatest LB of all time, I will not. Although, the fact that the Patriots could have ended up with Teddy Bruschi, Willie McGinest, Ty Law, Lawyer Milloy, AND Ray Lewis amongst others upsets me beyond repair. I hate Terry Glenn. Oh so much. But this isn’t a Terry Glenn bashing segment, I wouldn’t even wear out my keyboard for that nonsense. This is a praising of a great man and an even better linebacker. One could argue (and I’m going to) that the Madden Curse tried, and failed, to stop Ray Lewis. Look… Madden 1999 was the first cover to feature someone other than John Madden. It featured both Madden AND Garrison Hearst. I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure Hearst still can’t walk and that is 100% a product of being on the cover of Madden. Madden 2000 was also a split cover featuring Madden and another running back. This time it was Barry Sanders. Barry Sanders retired shortly after appearing on the cover of Madden prior to the ’99 season even kicking off, a move which still baffles Lions’ fans to this day. A move the franchise is just now recovering from. Madden 2001 featured Eddie George all by his lonesome – the first time in Madden history. George seemingly stopped producing on a dime during his post-Madden cover career. He went from one of the league’s best rushers to a hobbled back who saw his YPC average drop to a measily 3.3 yards per carry. Let’s not mention that whole Super Bowl they lost to the Rams either. Madden 2002 had Duante Caulpepper on the cover. Caulpepper quickly went from MVP candidate slinging the rock to Randy Moss. To guy fighting for backup quarterback job with the Miami Dolphins. Yeeeeesh! Madden 2003 featured Marshall Faulk. I should have a Marshall Faulk joke, but I don’t. Instead, I’ll just ignore the fact that he was up there in age for a running back like George and give the Madden Curse all the credit for smiting another innocent victim. Madden 2004… Mike Vick. No, he wasn’t Michael at the time. This was dog murdering, getting hurt in the preseason, corn rows a-flowing, Mike Vick experience Mike Vick. Well… we know how his life crumbled. Broken leg. Arrest. Incarceration for a long while. Now… he plays for the Eagles. The punishment shall never cease. Madden 2006 had Donovan McNabb. I’d say that’s as smooth as a transition from 2004. Only thing that would have been better is if McNabb had been featured on the cover the year before Vick. Would have been absolutely golden. But yeah… McNabb thinks he’s still a viable option at quarterback… We all know he isn’t. Madden 2007 featured Seattle Seahawk Shaun Alexander. Shaun Alexander ended up playing for worse Seahawks teams which didn’t get the chance to lose any more Super Bowls while his individual production plummeted anually. Madden ’08 had Vince Young. Young is currently at his normal stomping grounds – the Cheescake Factory. No, he’s not ordering $5,000 worth of food. He’s washing dishes in the back. Poor VY. Madden Curse absolutely raped you. Madden ’09 had the old gun slinger himself, Brett Favre. Favre to this day has no idea why his picture is on his favorite flat surface he uses to blow lines off of. He chops his vikes up with the disk, FWIW. Madden ’10 had Troy Polamalu and Larry Fitzgerald in what was the only innovative cover ever. Polamalu has been plagued by injuries recently while Fitzy is plagued to play for the Cardinals. I could care less if that’s the proper use of the word plagued. Madden ’11 featured Drew Brees. Since that time, sure, Brees broke Dan Marino’s record for yards in a season while also breaking Johnny Unitas’ record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass. But in that time his team has also been caught red handed with their heinous acts in BountyGate while also losing to the Seahawks in the playoffs. The 7-9 Seahawks at that. Madden ’12 had Peyton Hillis… Moving on. Madden ’13 is a bit premature to call since it is the current version but the fact that Calvin Johnson has yet to catch a touchdown pass thrown by Matthew Stafford is rather alarming. The team as a whole has played like stale dog **** and by the highlights of their games I don’t believe House of Spears Suh is even playing anymore. An all around selfish move by Megatron. “But Coley, you forgot Madden 2005. Dolt.” Don’t get snippy, internet. I 100% did not forget it. For it was the year in which Ray Lewis was featured on the cover. And while he was sidelined for the majority of the 2005 season, Madden ’05 came out prior to the ’04 season. In the ’04 season, Ray Lewis flourished. 147 tackles over 15 games. Not too shabby at all. Sure, in ’05 Lewis only played in six games. Since that time, Lewis has played less than 14 games only once which was last season when he only appeared in 12 regular season games. 2012 will be only the third time in Lewis’ 17-year career where he fails to reach double digit games played. That is more than consistency, my friends. That is plain taking a scientifically proven curse and laughing in its face. You think Ray Lewis believes in curses? Cause I sure don’t. Guy is a freak athlete. A physical specimen. And probably the best motivational speaker of all time. Ray Lewis has been destined for the Hall of Fame the second his father walked out on his family. If you have never heard of what Ray Lewis did to all of his father’s high school records for wrestling and football in Florida, read up sometime. Or watch the old Fox Sports Net Ray Lewis special (Not even sure if it was called FSN back then it was so long ago). There are few human beings who have ever possesed the focus and motivation as Lewis has throughout his entire life. He should be celebrated for his accomplishments and calling him the G.O.A.T. for linebackers is a drop in the bucket for the accolades he will receive when he is finally done. I’m just expecting that day to be later rather than sooner.
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