BALTIMORE (WJZ/AP) — Ravens legend Ray Lewis has been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Lewis was inducted in Canton, Ohio, Saturday in his first year of eligibility.
The last of the seven members of the class of 2018 on hand to be enshrined, Lewis eschewed notes and the lectern, instead strolling along the stage and passionately urging his listeners to come together.
“Are you living every day to make this world better?” Lewis asked Saturday night at the end of his 33-minute oratory, often invoking the teachings of Martin Luther King. “Think what we can do if we work together as a country … teaching our nation to love each other again.
“It’s how we react to the challenges in our life that shows our greatness. How do we execute that dream? Who will answer that knock on the door in the middle of the night? And it has to start right now. We need people willing to fight for what is good and what is right.”
Turning to the 140 Hall of Famers on the stage, he told them: “We can go from being legends to building a legacy bigger than football, bigger than sports. Look at what unites us … the answer is simple, love. Hope, faith and love, and the greatest is love.”
The Hall of Fame Class of 2018 also includes Randy Moss, Brian Urlacher, Brian Dawkins, Terrell Owens, Jerry Kramer, Robert Brazile and Bobby Beathard.
The announcement of the linebacker’s induction came in February on the fifth anniversary of the Ravens’ victory in Super Bowl 47 and Lewis’ final game.
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.
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.
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