- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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Ray Lewis won't be suiting up for the Ravens next season, but he will always be part of the team and Baltimore's football history.
The Ravens are making sure that legacy is immortalized by building a statue for Lewis. This is something that Lewis deserves and has earned.
You can't think of the Ravens without picturing Lewis, whether it's him chasing down a running back, motivating teammates or doing his signature dance. The Ravens have a Ring of Honor, but Lewis transcends that. The team should build a statue for Lewis. The Ravens should make Lewis' No. 52 the first one that is retired in team history. Anything you can do to thank a player, the Ravens should do that for Lewis.
"I think he set himself apart in Baltimore sports history," owner Steve Bisciotti said of Lewis, "and we will certainly look into [building a statue] and I would not be surprised if there is one there in the next year or two."
Bisciotti said he doesn't know where the statue will be built. There is already one for Johnny Unitas on one side of M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens should place Lewis' statue in his own plaza outside the stadium. There needs to be a separation. Unitas represents Baltimore's old team, and Lewis will be the enduring image of the new one.
The Ravens have had other great players from Hall of Fame lineman Jonathan Ogden to safety Ed Reed. But no one has been the face of a franchise like Lewis. The Ravens haven't played a season without Lewis. The Ravens' era is the Lewis era. This franchise has existed for 17 seasons, and for 17 seasons, Lewis has been the ultimate leader.
Lewis' legacy is viewed differently around the country because of the incident in Atlanta 13 years ago. But in Baltimore, he will be remembered as the one who brought two Super Bowl titles to the city and led a decade of dominance on the defensive side of the ball.
This announcement is actually the fulfillment of a handshake agreement that predates Bisciotti. Back in the late 1990s, a high-ranking team official, who is no longer with the Ravens, promised Lewis that he would build a statue outside of the stadium if he led the team to a Super Bowl title. With two Lombardi trophies, Lewis has more than held up his end of the deal.
4hEric D. Williams