Ray Lewis is already an icon in the city of Baltimore, and now the Ravens will honor the recently retired linebacker by immortalizing him with a statue at M&T Bank Stadium, as per owner Steve Bisciotti (via the Ravens' official Twitter).
Steve Bisciotti says there will be a statue of Ray Lewis going up somewhere around M&T Bank Stadium.— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) February 7, 2013
A first-round pick in 1996, Lewis spent his entire 17-year career with the Ravens. He established himself as one of the best and most intimidating linebackers in NFL history by making plays all over the field and hitting opponents as hard as he could.
Shortly after being drafted by the Ravens, Lewis quickly became the face of the franchise. After recording 95 total tackles and 2.5 sacks as a rookie, he would go on a run where he recorded at least 100 tackles and three sacks in four of the next five seasons.
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In 2000, Lewis was the leader of arguably the greatest defense in NFL history. The Ravens set a new NFL record for points allowed with 165. That group also set a record for fewest rush yards allowed in a 16-game season (970) and shut out four teams in the regular season.
During the playoffs that year, the Ravens allowed a total of 23 points in four games en route to winning the first Super Bowl in franchise history. Lewis was named MVP of the Super Bowl after the Ravens defeated the New York Giants 34-7.
After announcing his intention to retire following an injury-plagued 2012 season, Lewis was a key factor in the Ravens winning their second Super Bowl. He led all players with 51 total tackles.
In his career, Lewis finished with 1,558 total tackles, 41.5 sacks, 31 interceptions and 19 forced fumbles. He was named the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year in 2000 and 2003. He will go into the Hall of Fame as soon as he is eligible.
All of that and a statue outside the Ravens stadium is not a bad way to celebrate one of the best on-field careers any of us will ever see.