From his first days as Ravens head coach, Brian Billick knew there was something different about Ray Lewis.
It wasn't the way this 6-foot-1, 240-pound freak of nature could roam gracefully from sideline to sideline, then focus like a laser on his target and deliver a bone-rattling hit. No, Billick had already seen Lewis do that. Billick had been the offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings when they played against Lewis and the Ravens in 1998. Billick had already studied Lewis and devised a game plan to account for him.
But upon joining the Ravens in 1999, Billick was most struck by something that never showed up in the box score.
"It was shocking to me," Billick said, "coming to the Ravens and seeing again and again how readily the veterans, and I'm talking guys like Rod Woodson, future Hall of Famer . . . how readily they gave themselves over to Ray's leadership."
Other contributors include O.J. Brigance, Haloti Ngata, Jonathan Ogden, Ed Reed, Chuck Pagano, Rex Ryan, Jerome Bettis, Eddie George, and many more. Read all 52 memories of No. 52 at PressBoxOnline.com/Ray.