BALTIMORE, MD - JANUARY 15: Ray Lewis #52 of the Baltimore Ravens yells as he runs onto the field prior to the start of the AFC Divisional playoff game against the Houston Texans at M&T Bank Stadium on January 15, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis was ranked the third-best player in the league over 35 years of age, according to a story at NFL.com. Lewis will be 37 years old when the season starts, his 17th in the NFL. He is the oldest player on this list, other than honorable mention placekicker Jon Kasay, who is 42 years old, but we all know that kickers aren't really football players, right?
First on the list is everybody's favorite, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady. Brady actually won't even turn 35 until August 3rd, but will be in this group once they starting hitting for real in the regular season. Besides,isn't Tom Brady at or near the top on every list?
(Read more on this and see a glimpse of what they said about Ray Lewis after the 'Jump')
Second on the list and definitely worthy, is Green Bay Packers cornerback, Charles Woodson. Woodson is in many ways, the cornerback equivalent of Ray Lewis, in that he has been playing at such a high level for so many years. With seven picks in 2011, he remains one of the top pass defenders in the game.
However, it's the Ravens' Lewis who continues to play at such a high level in by far the most physically punishing position of the aforementioned players. To do it for so long, despite the pounding his body takes, all the while disproving critics who say his skills are diminishing by continuing to out-smart opponents and make plays, deliver bone-crushing hits and earning the respect of players from every team around the league as the best motivator and leader on the field.
According to the NFL.com story, here is a glimpse of what they said about Ray:
"Lewis is no longer the sideline-to-sideline terror that he once was in the middle, but he is still an impact player within the box. His superb instincts, awareness and anticipation allow him to shoot gaps before blockers can engage contact, leading to disruptive plays in the backfield."