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Deion Sanders, Randall Cunningham, Ravens

5 best players for the Baltimore Ravens that you forgot about

The Baltimore Ravens may have only been around since 1996, but the franchise has boasted some iconic players, including some who fans don’t associate with the team.

Here are five players you may have forgotten played for Baltimore.

5. Lorenzo Neal, 2008

Fullbacks have been mostly phased out in the modern NFL, but throughout NFL history, few have been as good as Neal. Over his 16 year career, Neal made four Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams, and cleared the way for 11 consecutive 1,000-yard rushers from 1997 to 2007.

He was originally a fourth-round pick of the New Orleans Saints in 1993, and also spent time with the New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans, Cincinnati Bengals, and San Diego Chargers.

He joined the Ravens in 2008, and that year was interesting because Le’Ron McClain, also an excellent fullback, ended up as Baltimore’s leading rusher with 902 yards and 1o touchdowns, in large part thanks to Neal’s lead blocking.

At the age of 39, Neal signed with the Oakland Raiders for the 2009 campaign, but was released during the preseason and retired afterward.

4. Brandon Stokley, 1999-2002, 2013

Stokley had a solid 15-year career, winning three Super Bowls, but is best know as one of the three wide receivers to gain 1,000 yards with the Indianapolis Colts in 2004, the only time in NFL history that feat has been achieved.

The Ravens selected him in the fourth round in 1999, and he spent four years with the team, earning more playing time each season before leaving for Indianapolis.

After stops with the Denver Broncos (twice), Seattle Seahawks, and New York Giants, Stokley returned to Baltimore in 2013, but played in only six games before landing on injured reserve due to a concussion, and retired after the season.

3. Dallas Clark, 2013

Another former Colt, Clark’s tenure with the Ravens occurred simultaneously with Stokley’s and went a bit better.

A first-rounder in 2003, Clark was one of Peyton Manning’s most trusted targets for eight years. He left the Colts after the 2011 season (as did Manning, who had missed the year due to a neck injury), and played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012.

He joined the Ravens in 2013, catching 31 passes for 343 yards and three touchdowns in 12 games. After the season, he signed a one-day contract to retire as a Colt.

2. Randall Cunningham, 2001

The owner of one of the strongest arms in NFL history, Cunningham spent the first 11 years of his career with the Philadelphia Eagles, making three Pro Bowls before retiring in 1996.

A year later, he returned to the game with the Minnesota Vikings and had the best season of his career with the Vikings; getting to throw to Randy Moss probably had a little something to do with that. As a starter, Cunningham went 82-52-1, and threw for 29,979 yards, 207 touchdowns, and 134 interceptions altogether. With his blend of arm strength and mobility, Cunningham would be a perfect fit in today’s game.

Cunningham was the backup for the Dallas Cowboys in 2000, although he did have to step in for starter Troy Aikman, who suffered multiple concussions that forced him to retire after the season. Cunningham’s next stop was in Baltimore, where he served as the backup to Elvis Grbac, and again had to fill in, winning both of his starts and appearing in six total games.

He retired shortly after the season.

1. Deion Sanders, 2oo4-2005

One of the most talented players in NFL history (and he knew it), Sanders is best known for his time with the Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Cowboys, but also made stops with the San Francisco 49ers and Washington Redskins before retiring in 2001 to play professional baseball.

He had made his MLB debut two years earlier with the New York Yankees, but was able to focus on baseball full-time while he was away from football. In 2004 he was convinced by Corey Fuller and Ray Lewis to return to the NFL, and signed a one-year deal with the Ravens. He played two seasons in Baltimore, and despite being 37 and 38 at the time, played well.

Of course, he was always a fantastic athlete, even by NFL standards, so Sanders at 70% was better than many players at 100%. The Ravens however failed to make the playoffs during both years, and Sanders retired for good after 2005.

He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011, his first year of eligibility.