ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 25: Ray Lewis #52 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates after Haloti Ngata #92 picked up a fumble and returned it for a touchdown against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on September 25, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Ravens defeated the Rams 37-7. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)
In my mind there are three truly all time, great Ravens. Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Jonathan Ogden. All three are sure fire Hall Of Famers and more importantly all three defined their position for their time.
Jonathan Ogden was arguably the best left tackle in the game for his entire career. He was an 11 time
Pro Bowler and nine time All Pro. Ogden was the Ravens first ever draft pick in the 1996 draft. What a way to start. He made the Pro Bowl every year of his career except his rookie season.
Ed Reed could possibly be the best free safety of all time. 57 interceptions for 1,463 yards and six touchdowns. Another legendary player to wear the purple and black. Reed has been an amazing player on the field, even if he gives the entire city of Baltimore a headache each off season.
Ray Lewis transcends football. He is the definition of a leader. Lewis, the Ravens second over all draft pick, Has redefined the middle linebacker position. He was, at one point, the most dominant defensive player I've ever seen. I'm not going to start listing the countless accolades that come along with the name Ray Lewis, instead, I'll define him in one sentence. Forever the face of the Ravens, Ray Lewis defines greatness in the city of Baltimore.
It is amazing that the Ravens have drafted this many all time great players in their short 16 year history. The team continues to draft well and develop the players they have selected into some of the best in the game today. There are several players at different stages of their career on the Ravens roster that could one day find themselves being talked about in such high regard.
The Ravens have the defensive player of the year Terrell Suggs who was about as good as any player could be on defense in 2011. Suggs was a game changer, a guy that literally put the team on his back at times. Especially against the Pittsburgh Steelers when the stage couldn't get any bigger. Suggs has now sustained a substantial injury from which he may never be the same. However if he does come back 100% he could one day play himself into this conversation.
One of the amazing things about this team is that Suggs may not even be the most dominant defender on the defense. Many say that Haloti Ngata will be the next greatest Raven. Although he played hurt for almost the entire second half of the season Ngata still performed at a Pro Bowl level. Whenever other teams are asked who the Ravens most disruptive defender is Haloti Ngata is the common answer.
If either Suggs or Ngata is able to continue their outstanding play for the rest of their careers, one of them will be the next "Great". Who is waiting in the wings behind these two though? Will Ray Rice stay a Raven and continue to tear up the league amassing huge numbers in total yards?
Will Joe Flacco bring the Lombardi Trophy back to Baltimore? Can he do it more than once? If Flacco were able to win a championship here after taking his team to the play offs in each of his first four years, he could be knocking on the door of greatness.
Some or none of these players may one day be in the all time great rankings but none will ever define a team like Ray Lewis has. He and Reed and Ogden have put themselves on the highest of pedestals and set the bar for greatness in this city. It is truly a daunting task to reach their level. No one else may ever reach their legacies.