Everyone has a favorite Ray Lewis story to tell.
For Marvin Lewis, it’s about the first time he ever saw a tape of Ray Lewis. “I was still with the Steelers in 1995 and we were scouting players in our spare time, watching film,” Marvin Lewis said. “I turned the tape off after five plays and got disgusted because I knew I’d never coach him in Pittsburgh. We had plenty of linebackers and we weren’t in a position to draft him. We didn’t need him. But he was the best guy I’d ever seen. He could run and he could make tackles. When I got to Baltimore, (former Ravens’ linebackers coach) Maxie (Baughan) went to Florida and worked him out and loved his competitive nature. He was obviously undersized but he didn’t take on blocks. We built a system where he didn’t have to. On draft day we just crossed our fingers and he fell to us.”
The scouts didn’t love Lewis because there were bigger guys available in the draft. He wasn’t a prototypical middle linebacker in the NFL.
“Scouts are always going to differ because they don’t have a vision of what you’re going to do on game day,” Marvin Lewis said. “There’s a feeling that if a middle linebacker isn’t 6-2 and 250 pounds, they can’t do it. Ray was under 6-1 and about 238 pounds. He was plenty big enough for me.”
For Director of College Scouting Phil Savage, there was some minor trepidation on draft day. “He didn’t interview well during the combines, he had the double earrings and he came from a tough background in Miami. There were a lot of teams turned off by Ray, I’m not going to lie to you. That’s how he fell so far.”
But five days later when Lewis reported to Owings Mills, Savage got a report from the weight room that made him smile. “When the rookies came in,