The Ravens are one of the newest teams in the NFL, having been around since only 1996. However, they have had numerous stars on the team throughout the years. Today, we'll look at some of the players that should be on "Mount Ravemore".
Ah Ray Lewis. When he isn't shouting about God and barking, he led the team every single year he was a Raven. In fact, he was on the sidelines some in 2013, cheering on players and still being a mentor. As the second overall Ravens pick ever, Lewis was selected at 26th in the first round of the 1996 draft.
A two-time Super Bowl champion, a Super Bowl MVP, 13 Pro Bowl nods, four NFL records currently held and unanimously thought of as one of the best linebackers in all of football's history. Not a bad list of accomplishments for a player that was labeled as too small for the NFL. Ray Lewis deserves the first spot in our mountain of Raven.
What can we really say about Jonathan Ogden? Ogden was the first Ravens selection and was taken by the Ravens with the fourth overall pick in the 1996 draft. The guy was quiet as a mouse both on and off the field but was an absolute beast of a left tackle. So much of a beast in fact that he was inducted to the Hall of Fame on his first year of eligibility. Now that would be different if he was a quarterback or a running back or even a safety, but Ogden was a lineman. Lineman rarely get in the Hall of Fame and few get in on their first chance. That by itself speaks volumes of how the NFL as a whole thinks of Baltimore's gentle giant.
However, 11 Pro Bowls, a Super Bowl ring, NFL Offensive Lineman of the Year award, and an 2000s All-Decade Team membership certainly helps too. Former New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan had this to say about the 6-foot-9, 345-pound lineman:
You see him, you think to yourself this guy is not mean enough to handle the mean guys out there in the NFL. Jonathan would rip your limbs off, and he'd smile...and wave your arm in front of you
Yeah, he was that good!
Unlike Ray Lewis and Jonathan Ogden, Jamal Lewis wasn't a Raven for life, having only played for the Ravens for six seasons. But when I think of monumental Ravens, I have to think of ole No. 31. Drafted in the first round, Lewis was one of the primary reasons the Ravens won their first Super Bowl. Many people look at the stifling defense that Ray Lewis and company put up or the efficient, mistake-free football that quarterback Trent Dilfer played. But you really have to not take Jamal Lewis' rookie season for granted. Initially starting the season backing up Priest Holmes, the then rookie not only beat him out for the job as the season went on, but he rushed for 1300 yards that first season. Then when the Ravens got into the Super Bowl, Lewis became the youngest player to ever score a touchdown in a Super Bowl at 21 years old and was only the second rookie to rush for more than 100 yards.
If that wasn't enough, Lewis was the NFL MVP and Offensive Player of the Year after rushing for 2,066 yards, falling only 39 yards short of the NFL record. Lewis became only the fifth player in NFL history at the time to join the 2,000 yard rushing club. While currently at 22 overall in NFL history with 10,607 rushing yards, Lewis' 4.2 yards per carry is one of the highest put up in the last 40 years.
Quarterback Joe Flacco might be an odd choice here since his playing time is far from over. However, a Super Bowl MVP kinda earns you an automatic spot on this list as far as I'm concerned. The first true Ravens franchise quarterback, Flacco has helped usher a brand new era into Baltimore. Where the team used to be all about defense, you are starting to see that the offense is being relied on to win more and more games.
While Flacco had a down year statistically in 2013, he holds one of the most impressive postseason performances for a quarterback of all time. Tied for third place with Steve Young and his 117.2 passer rating in the postseason to go along with being tied for first with Joe Montana and Kurt Warner for the most touchdown passes in a single postseason, Flacco cemented himself as not only the Ravens franchise quarterback but as an elite quarterback in the NFL.
Who are some of the other players that should have been considered?