BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis has been named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
It was announced in Minneapolis, Minn. on Saturday night, which also marked the fifth anniversary of the Ravens’ victory in Super Bowl 47 and Lewis’ final game.
See Lewis’ emotional reaction to the news:
Lewis is an original Raven, picked second in the team’s first draft in 1996 — along with Hall of Famer Jon Ogden. He is a 13-time Pro Bowler, seven-time first-team All-Pro and two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2000 and 2003), and helped lead Baltimore to two Super Bowl titles (2000 and 2012), earning MVP honors in the 2000 season’s game.
Prior to being named to the NFL All-Decade Team (2000s), Lewis led a defense during the Ravens’ title-winning 2000 campaign that established a 16-game single-season record for fewest points (165) and fewest rushing yards allowed (970), recorded four shutouts (one shy of the post-1970 merger record), and finished first league-wide in six key defensive categories.
“For 17 years, we could point to No. 52 and tell the other players: ‘Follow his lead. Practice like Ray practices. Prepare like Ray prepares. Be a great teammate like him.’ It was our privilege to have him as a Raven. We are all better for having him here. His play on gamedays speaks for itself. Even in that small group who have the honor of being a Hall of Famer, Ray stands out. When you talk about the great players of all time, no matter position, he is among the greatest of the great,” Ravens General Manager, Executive Vice President and Hall of Famer Ozzie Newsome said in a statement.
The only player in NFL history to produce at least 40 career sacks and 30 career interceptions (41.5 sacks and 31 interceptions), Lewis also tallied a Ravens’ franchise-record 2,643 career tackles, including a single-season best 225 stops in 2003.
Lewis, of course, hit his signature “squirrel” dance at Saturday’s NFL Honors.
“Ray represented Ravens Football perfectly. He established what it means to Play Like a Raven, which has become a standard we believe in and our fans understand. It was an honor to coach Ray on the field and to maintain our friendship off it. I’m wishing Ray and his family many blessings during his Hall of Fame journey, as I know he walks in faith and will always remember that we walk together as Super Bowl champions,” Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said Saturday.
Lewis is expected to be on the field and honored as a newly elected Hall of Famer on Sunday when the Patriots take on the Eagles in Super Bowl 52.
“Obviously, there is nobody more deserving. He made people around him better, which is the greatest compliment that you can give anybody in football, and he clearly was that guy,” Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said.
The Hall of Fame Class of 2018 also includes Randy Moss, Brian Urlacher, Brian Dawkins, Terrell Owens, Jerry Kramer, Robert Brazile and Bobby Beathard.
“What the fans saw of Ray Lewis on Sundays is what we saw every day, every meeting, every workout, every practice – that unabridged passion for the game and excellence. We congratulate him on what is truly a worthy Hall of Fame induction,” Former Ravens Head Coach Brian Billick said in a statement released by the Ravens.