The Baltimore Ravens Are the NFL's Most Inspirational Team

Mike PendletonCorrespondent IAugust 19, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS - JANUARY 16:  Ray Rice #27 of the Baltimore Ravens runs the ball against the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Lucas Oli Stadium on January 16, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

You start off with one of the greatest linebackers in NFL history, Ray Lewis. His speeches will make you want to throw on some pads and hit somebody. You throw in a well rounded veteran wide receiver in Derrick Mason, who decided against retirement when his life long friend Steve McNair was killed.

Those are just two of the most important staples on the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens have a feel good story almost everywhere you look and that's why behind the speeches of Ray Lewis, the Ravens could surprise and make a strong Super Bowl run.

Every team starts with their coach and Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, who was brought in for the 2008 season, instilled a winning tradition and never give up mentality to this team. He wasn't the only rookie to come in for the Ravens in '08. 

Rookie quarterback Joe Flacco also arrived in '08 and the only thing the naked eye knew about this kid from Delaware was that he had a gun-slinger arm. Little did anyone know that this rookie, Flacco who had Mason and veteran tight end Todd Heap to throw to, would wind up in the AFC Championship game.

It didn't stop there. Although Willis McGahee and '07 fourth-round pick Le'Ron McClain were already in town the Ravens drafted Ray Rice, a 5'8" 210-pound running back out of Rutgers. Quietly, the Ravens were becoming a dominant team.

Fast forward to 2009 and the Ravens had a movie star in their draft. First-round pick Michael Oher who was featured in the movie "The Blind Side" was an instant hit on the team, becoming an All-Pro left tackle. He was also Flacco's best friend. Oher, who barely knew football before his senior year in high school has quickly become one of the most dominant forces in the NFL. 

With all that, the Ravens finished  9-7 (second in the AFC North) and Ray Rice had a combined 2,000+ yards from scrimmage. The good things on the Ravens, just got better. Although they did lose the AFC Divisional playoff game to the Colts the Ravens had plans to make their team even better for the 2010-11' season.

Off season: 2010. The Ravens highlighted the off-season trade marker when they acquired Pro Bowler, Anquan Boldin from the Arizona Cardinals. The Ravens also added Donte' Stallworth who was given a second chance by the league after a year long suspension after he pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter.

In the draft the Ravens picked up two tight ends, Dennis Pitta (BYU) and Ed Dickson (Oregon) for replacements when veteran Todd Heap decides to hang them up. The Ravens also drafted Sergio Kindle (Texas) and Terrence "Mount" Cody (Alabama) to furthermore improve their already astonishing defense.

So as the 2010-11' season begin the Ravens are ready. Even with All-Pro safety Ed Reed on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform list) to begin the year there are whispers he may fight back to return by week one.

Take a quick look at the first thing said about a lot of the Ravens player's and you will easily find the motivation to not only like their team but root for them to do well. Joe Flacco (who?), Ray Rice (to small), Donte' Stallworth (never be the same) Anquan Boldin (never a true number one), Derrick Mason, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Todd Heap (to old). The Ravens have no problem with what the critics say.

The Ravens also have many injuries in their secondary with corner-back Domonique Foxworth lost for the season to a torn ACL and two guys, Lardarius Webb and Fabian Washington trying to come back from torn ACL injuries. If you throw in Ed Reed who has already been mentioned with his PUP placement (hip injury) some may count the Ravens out.

As a Bengals fan I can acknowledge this team as not only one of the most well rounded teams in the league but one of the most inspirational. A lot of players on this team have been questioned on what they can do but actions speak louder then words.

It's hard to say that about a team who's leader (Ray Lewis) has the most memorable, inspiring and loudest pre-game chants in the league. The Ravens will be a very scary team to mess with in the NFL this season and that is one story that won't need inspiration.