Jamal Lewis should be considered in the same breath as some of the great running backs to ever play in the NFL.
A legitimate case can be made that he should receive serious consideration for the Hall of Fame when he finally calls it quits.
He earned a Super Bowl ring in a season in which he was essentially his team’s only offensive weapon.
He won the Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player award in 2003. In that season, he became only the fifth running back in the history of the NFL to rush for over 2,000 yards.
In that same year, he fell only 39 yards short of setting the single season rushing record held by Eric Dickerson. His 295 yards rushing in a single game set an all-time record.
Lewis recently passed Eddie George and Tiki Barber to move into 21st on the all-time rushing list and should find himself in the top 20 by the time this season ends.
But more than just statistics should describe the football player that is Jamal Lewis. He was, and is, a warrior.
Never one to shy away from contact, Lewis has caused many a defender to wake up on Monday morning wondering what truck ran over them the day before.
He played the game hard. He played through injuries, and he inspired his teammates with his quiet but brutal style of play.
He fought for every yard and left carnage in his wake.
He was signed in the year 2007 by the Cleveland Browns when some questioned exactly how much he had left after seven seasons of his battering-ram approach to the game. After all, he had been outright waived by the Baltimore Ravens when management believed that Lewis’ career was coming to an end.
He proved all naysayers wrong by rushing for over 1,300 yards and nine touchdowns while leading the Browns to their best record since the rebirth of the franchise.
Lewis is now adamant that he will retire when this year comes to an end.
Those may just be the words of a proud man who simply does not like losing—or it just might be the realization that his body can no longer handle the weekly wear-and-tear that an NFL running back of his ilk dishes out and takes.
Despite my complete and utter respect for Mr. Lewis' career, it is time for both he and the organization to go their separate ways.
Lewis has revived his career on several occasions, going all the way back to a terrible knee injury he sustained as a college football player. But after over 2,500 carries (before this season ends), the Cleveland Browns can no longer rely on him if they want to move forward to respectability.
Professional football is a cruel business, and unfortunately players of his stature have to check their egos at the door when they are nearing the end of their careers.
Both he and the Cleveland Browns will be better off if he chooses to retire, rather than face the cold indignity that comes when a franchise decides that a player should not be part of their future.
I am hoping that Jamal does not have a change of heart so that he does not have to face that degradation.
Thank you for your service, Jamal! You truly have been one of the greats of my generation.
Cleveland fans, Baltimore fans, and NFL fans in general owe you a debt of gratitude.
But it is time for the Cleveland Browns to move on...and for you to end your career with grace.