When you think about the greatest linebackers to ever play the game, it's more than just stats that defines their mystique.
Dick Butkus was ferocious and scary, Jack Lambert was nasty and mean, Lawrence Taylor was relentless, Mike Singletary was an energized beast and that's just a few. But when you think of Ray Lewis it has to be LEADERSHIP.
Ray Lewis, a two time defensive player of the year (2000, 2003), has all of the accolades a linebacker can have. His stats are second to none. He started 227 games, made 2073 total tackles (regular season), force 19 fumbles, has 20 fumble recoveries and 6 touchdowns all in a 17 year career. He was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 1996 with the 4th overall pick. Lewis is probably the only player in the history of the NFL who could get inducted in the Hall of Fame before he retires and most people wouldn't have a problem with that.
But what makes him the greatest?
Let's start with stats that separates him. He is the only player in NFL history to record over 40 sacks (41.5) and have 30 interceptions (31). Whenever you create or reach a stat that has never been done then that automatically makes you the greatest at your position. He has the most Pro Bowl appearance by a linebacker with 13 and is tied with Reggie White for the most by a defensive player. After he is inducted into the Hall of Fame he will be the only linebacker of that prestigious club who has been named Super Bowl MVP (2000).
His most special attribute that really separates him from the pack is his leadership. Ray Ray can get an innocent by-standard to go to Iraq and fight side by side with him using a box cutter. There has never been a man in football who can give a speech that can get players fired up like he does. In his 17 year career teammates have come and gone but the Ravens defense has been the most consistent during his career. The Ravens has been rated in the top 10 defenses 12 times and 9 of those times have been in the top 5.
There has been no other player in the NFL that has showcased their passion through play and preparation like Lewis. To see one motivate off the field and get people inside their homes ready to suit up with their hairs on their necks standing up and then do what he actually said he was going to do every Sunday is a quality that no other linebacker has. For that matter any player. He is the best motivator ever including coaches in NFL history.
Ray Lewis is definitely the best linebacker that has ever played and is arguably the best player that the game has ever seen.