Ray Lewis knows a thing or two about being a dominant linebacker.
After all, the former Baltimore Raven compiled a 17-year career that landed him in the Hall of Fame. And Lewis has one New York Giants all-time linebacker among his greatest to ever play the position.
Now an analyst with FS1, Lewis can point to a career where he racked up 2,061 tackles, 41.5 sacks and 19 forced fumbles. He had a staggering legacy in Baltimore that includes becoming the voice of the franchise and an emotional leader in the locker room.
Few players, if any, were as dominant on either side of the ball as Lewis was during his career. After all, there is a statue of him outside M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Ravens.
And asking athletes (and former athletes) who would be on their personal Mt. Rushmore is all the rage these days. So, when given the opportunity, I asked Lewis who would be on his Mt. Rushmore of NFL linebackers.
Lewis spoke to me in early March at a press conference held by the Maxwell Football Club prior to its gala event at the Tropicana Atlantic City. Lewis was honored with the Tropicana Legends Award.
Oh, and Lewis was allowed to put himself up on the mountain if he wanted to immortalize his own career.
“I wouldn’t include myself,” Lewis said with a laugh before launching into his list. “Dick Butkus, [Jack] Lambert, [Lawrence] Taylor, [Mike] Singletary, Willie Lanier.”
That’s an impressive list and because Lewis still looks like he can play – he showed up to the event looking like he came straight from the gym floor — he was allowed to put up five on his Mt. Rushmore. He did concede though that Singletary got the nod for his fourth and final spot.
The inclusion of Taylor shouldn’t be a surprise, especially since the former Giants linebacker played with the same ferocity as Lewis. LT was the best at his position from the mid-80s during a stretch that was nearly a decade in length. He was dominant and prolific on two Super Bowl winning teams for the Giants.
Ironically, Lewis also won two Super Bowls while with the Ravens. In addition, he was selected to the Pro Bowl 13 times and to the NFL’s All-Pro first team seven times.
Lewis had fun with the question but didn’t think it was necessarily fair to go across different eras in the NFL.
“It’s a lot of people, and I’ve never put them in that category like that because I hate when people compare eras because it’s just too difficult,” Lewis said. “I just think during their time [these four] were very special.”
[Catch NY Giants Draft Show (LIVE) April 25 at 7:30 PM on MSG & MSG GO.]