Point: Yes, I think he is an all-time great.
Counterpoint: I say no. He was a very good back who had a huge season.
P: That was the year he put up 2,066 yards though. He came just 39 yards short of the all-time single season rushing record held by Eric Dickerson.
CP: That was a stellar season.
P: It was. He never topped that season, but it was one of the best seasons by a running back ever.
CP: Yeah, so that would be hard to top.
P: Of course. His 295 yards rushing in a game that same season is No. 2 all-time.
CP: I am aware of his 2003 season. However, what else has he done?
P: He was part of the 2000 Super Bowl team for the Ravens. He rushed for over 1,300 yards that year. In the Super Bowl, he rushed for 103 yards and scored a touchdown in the game becoming only the second rookie ever to rush for over 100 yards in a Super Bowl.
CP: Impressive, indeed.
P: You know it.
CP: So your case comes down to 10,607 yards rushing, the huge 2003 season, and the Super Bowl?
P: Not enough?
CP: His 58 touchdowns are nothing special.
P: True, but O.J. Simpson only had 61. You don't question him do you?
CP: Not today. Anyway, Lewis does only have one Pro Bowl appearance.
P: Those are popularity contests.
CP: He is not even among the top runners in his era.
P: OK, just for fun, name the top runners of his era.
CP: Hmmm...How about Jerome Bettis, Corey Dillon, Tiki Barber, Sean Alexander, Marshall Faulk, Edgerrin James, LaDainian Tomlinson, Curtis Martin, Ahman Green, Clinton Portis, Thomas Jones, and Warrick Dunn?
P: Strong list.
CP: Lewis wouldn't rank ahead of many of these guys. Are they all Hall of Famers?
P: Some are for sure. I would put LT, Edge, and Bettis ahead of Lewis.
CP: What if I told you they all had more total yards than Lewis?
CP: And all but Dunn have more rushing touchdowns and Dunn has more total touchdowns.
P: None of them can match the 2003 season though.
CP: This is true.
P: Most of the guys you named will not make it to the Hall. Lewis' amazing 2003 season might push him into a mustard yellow blazer, though.
CP: A league MVP and Super Bowl ring are something they always like to see. What about his drug dealing? That could keep him out.
P: We all have problems. I think his numbers are good enough to get him in. He's got the yards and the big season.
CP: His off-field issues will probably keep him out at first. If he had two or three more good years it would be tough to keep him out, but it looks like he is done.