NFL Fan Alvin Mack might resort to misquoting rapper Craig Mack after seeing this BAD flava in (his) ear.
I had the same reaction.
I saw the list and immediately began guessing where the subject of a stadium statue, Ray Lewis, would fall. I thought it would be first or second. Considering multiple dimensions of what playing the game entails, I thought he had a great shot at first.
Remember in 2011--this was his second to last season, ever--he was voted as the fourth best player in the entire league? Behind a running back named Peterson and two quarterbacks named Brady and Manning. This, in his latter years (he was 36) when his sideline-to-sideline speed was nothing close to what it was in the dominating years surrounding the dominating Super Bowl win over the Giants (repetition purposeful). You remember, the year where the Ravens' Defense allowed only one offensive touchdown for the duration of the playoffs, and that was in the first quarter, on the road, at the number one seed Tennessee Titans?
Ed Reed, who made the Top 10 list at number 9, was not on that team.
Sometimes pundits can lean too much on statistics. Stats do not win games, or the NFL would be entirely predictable. Blood, sweat, and tears win games. Heart, discipline, dedication. Ray Lewis scores, perhaps, higher than anyone in NFL history on the intangible "leadership" category. Is it even arguable that he singlehandedly led the Ravens to the upset in Denver, 2012 season, with his inspirational mantra? "No weapon formed against us will prosper." He had the entire team chanting that at halftime of that game, believing it in that fateful last drive of the 4th quarter. Even Mike Singletary (who is not on the list either) is not known for that level of leadership.
The list mentions statistics to make the case of those that made it. Deion Sanders' 19 return touchdowns, Ed Reed's 64 interceptions, Reggie White's 57 sacks. All amazing numbers, indeed. But Lewis was a Super Bowl MVP, something no one on the list made. He had 41.5 sacks, which is nothing to sneeze at, but even more impressively he had 31 interceptions, which is 22 more than the list-topper, Lawrence Taylor, which is 5th most all-time for a LB, which is the most in 30 years for a LB career. Lewis was an "audibling" quarterback of the defense, one who deciphered offensive intent and jumped schemes, to their ruin. I am intentionally omitting the number of tackles because I am steering away from this being a statistical argument, which Ray would win. This is about the multiple dimensions of the game.
Having the quality of being able to inspire a teammate to run through a wall is no small trait. Some on the list had this fire, like Joe Greene from Pittsburgh, and of course, the Minister of Defense Reggie White. Combining intangible leadership with spectacular on-field production with superlative accolades--Super Bowl MVP, 2-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year--spells G.O.A.T.
Not putting him on this list is at best, an embarrassing oversight, at worst, a personal grudge of some sort. The man deserves full-on mention in the "best of" conversations, forever.
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