disguised in a Pepsi cup, over to Ray. I think he and I laughed all night as we played like 16-year-olds getting away with one. We kept yelling back and forth stuff like, “Boy, that Pepsi sure is good” and “How’s that Pepsi taste?”
Ray Lewis is a fun guy. His teammates love playing with him. His coaches love his enthusiasm for the game and his work habits from the video room down onto the field. The football fans of Baltimore enjoy his style, his work ethic and his sense of community. And, of course, the pre-game dance that seemed to shock the world on Super Bowl Sunday, has been his calling card since Memorial Stadium and the first season.
There were two things that Lewis lacked as a young player trying to find his way in the league: a role model and another player as good as he is who could match his passion for the game. During his second off-season, defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis found his young linebacker a match: future Hall of Famer and NFL 75th Anniversary cornerback, Rod Woodson.
I saw the relationship form right away. Where the corner in the Ravens clubhouse during the 1997 season featured Ray Lewis mentoring Morris, Boulware and Jamie Sharper – not a bad group of talent, mind you, nor a bad leader – the 1998 season would begin with an absolute rock of foundation with Woodson in that corner teaching the young bucks, including newly added Duane Starks, about life in the NFL. Woodson’s eternal line for anyone who dared enter the corner of talent: “We’re just trying to get right around here.” And he didn’t just mean football.
At one point, wanting to befriend Woodson (and that wasn’t easy), I invited him out for the tradition of crab cakes and football talk at The Barn. Lewis intervened and made the introduction on my behalf. Woodson was a diplomat. “If you get Ray to come out to the show, I’ll come with him. I go wherever Ray goes.”
Ray said, “We’ll be there this Monday night.” And they came, too. It’s very easy to define Ray Lewis by the way he plays football. The plaudits