The Baltimore Ravens are one of the NFL’s youngest teams, as they played their inaugural season in 1996. But they have made quite a mark on the league, winning two Super Bowls and boasting some of the game’s all-time great players. Here are the five biggest legends in Baltimore’s 24-year history.
5. Jamal Lewis, running back
The fifth-overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, Lewis was a member of the Ravens’ Super Bowl team as a rookie and spent seven years in Baltimore, rushing for 7,801 yards and 45 touchdowns. In training camp prior to the 2001 season, Lewis suffered a torn ACL and sprained MCL, and given that he had also torn the ACL in his other knee while at the Univeristy of Tennessee, his NFL career was in doubt; an ACL tear nowadays is serious, but certainly treatable. Back then, it was a borderline death sentence for a player’s career.
But Lewis returned better than ever, putting together a solid 2002 campaign and then rushing for 2,066 yards and 14 scores in 2003. He also set the NFL record for single-game rushing yards at 295 against the rival Cleveland Browns, a mark that stood until Adrian Peterson topped it in 2007. To this day, Lewis is still arguably the best skill-position player in Ravens history, and will always be a part of the esteemed 2,000 yards club.
4. Ed Reed, safety
Reed was the 24th pick in the 2002 draft, and looking back, it’s a wonder he lasted that long. A Hall of Famer, Reed made nine Pro Bowls and five All-Pro teams throughout his career, 11 years of which he spent in Baltimore. He was not only excellent in run support but was also elite in coverage.
Reed was an extremely versatile safety, and although his play fell off a cliff in his final season when he played for the Houston Texans and New York Jets, that doesn’t tarnish the legacy he left with the Ravens. Even playing on a team with Ray Lewis, Reed was always appreciated by local and national fans alike, as it was impossible to ignore just how good he was.
3. Ozzie Newsome, general manager
Newsome is in the Hall of Fame because of his contributions as a tight end for the Cleveland Browns, and there’s a chance he gets in again as an executive as well. Newsome joined Cleveland’s front office in 1991, and remained with the organization after they moved to Baltimore.
In 2002, Newsome became the first African-American general manager in NFL history, and over his term (which lasted until after the 2018 NFL Draft), the Ravens had just three losing seasons, made the playoffs 10 times, and won a Super Bowl. Newsome’s final draft was in 2018, and he left his legacy by taking a chance on Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, a move that seems to have worked out so far.
2. Jonathan Ogden, left tackle
The Ravens made Ogden their first draft choice in franchise history, selecting him fourth overall in 1996. He started at left guard as a rookie before spending the next 11 years at left tackle, earning 11 Pro Bowl nods and making four All-Pro teams. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013, and is one of the greatest offensive lineman in NFL history. Baltimore didn’t always have great quarterbacks under center during Ogden’s tenure, but they never had to worry about their blind side.
1. Ray Lewis, linebacker
It’s impossible to think about the Ravens as a franchise without Lewis’ name coming up. He was part of the team’s inaugural draft class, selected 26th overall in 1996. He was the fifth linebacker taking, as there were concerns about his size (which goes to show how much the game has changed in 20 years – 6-foot-1 and 240 pounds is good size for a linebacker nowadays).
All Lewis did was play for 17 seasons, win two Super Bowls, make 13 Pro Bowls and seven All-Pro teams, win two Defensive Player of the Year awards, rack up 2,059 tackles (the most in NFL history), and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2018.
He was as good a leader as they come, and was not only a tenacious run stopper, but was also elite in pass coverage. He is truly one of the league’s all-time greats, not just at linebacker, but at any position on defense. A triceps tear limited him to only six regular-season games in 2012, but he returned in time for the playoffs, and won his second ring in his final game, Super Bowl XLVII.