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Ravens Ray Lewis Named Greatest Linebacker of All-Time

Ravens Hall-of-Famer spent 17 years in Baltimore.

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — For almost 20 years, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis tormented his opponents and helped bring two Super Bowl championships back to Baltimore.

For his prowess on the field, Lewis was named the greatest linebacker of all time in an ESPN survey of 50 experts, reporters and analysts.

Ravens LB Ray Lewis

Ravens LB Ray Lewis

Here's the breakdown:

"What separates the greats from one another is not physical skill. It's preparation, football intelligence, instincts and execution," analyst Louis Riddick said. "Lewis made some of the most spectacular individual defensive plays we have ever seen because he was the very best at getting the most out of everything he had mentally before the ball was even snapped, allowing his physical skills to shine. That is being a GOAT in my eyes."

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Lewis spent his entire 17-year career with the Ravens and was a 12-time Pro Bowler, He received first-team All-Pro honors eight times during his career. Lewis was recognized as the AP Defensive Player of the Year in 2000 and 2003, and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s.

Lewis is the only player in NFL history with at least 40 career sacks and 30 career interceptions. He is second only to Hall of Famer Jack Ham (53) in takeaways by a linebacker since the 1970 merger with 50 (31 interceptions and 19 opponents’ fumble recoveries).

At the time of his retirement in 2012, Lewis held three records with the Ravens – most seasons played (17), most career games (228) and most career opponent fumbles recovered (20). He had a franchise record 2,643 career tackles, including a single-season team-best 225 in 2003.

"I covered Lewis from the day he was drafted until the night he walked away a winner in his second Super Bowl," Sal Paolantonio said. "He was the toughest, smartest NFL player I ever encountered. Lewis' film study habits allowed him to see things on the field before they happened. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning would both probably tell you Lewis rented space in their minds pre- and post-snap."

Dick Butkus finished second with 13 votes, followed by Mike Singletary (four votes) and Jack Lambert (three votes)