Ray Lewis, nicknamed “Sugar” played his entire 17 year career with the Baltimore Ravens. Some may say that he didn’t play for the them, instead they’ll claim that he is the Baltimore Ravens. But he’s not just the face of the franchise. Between 1996-2012 he was the Original Raven, the Team Captain, the General, the heart and soul of the team and the City of Baltimore.
He played the position of middle linebacker and was the best middle linebacker of his era and arguably the best all-time. He is a 13x Pro Bowler – which also includes the distinction of Lewis being one of those rare “birds” to have won this award in three different decades. He is also a 7x First Team All-Pro, the 2000 & 2003 NFL AP Defensive Player of the Year Awards and two Super Bowl Championships.
When talking (or writing) about Ray Lewis the most memorable thing to me is his intimidation factor. I remember the first time I witnessed it, I became an instant fan. He would come out of the tunnel and do a Motown shuffle with a kick and a couple of roars which sounded more like a raven crowing. Also, while the opposing team was being announced he would pace back and forth and stare down each opponent that was brave enough to make eye contact. There is endless testimony on the negative impact this had on the opposing team and the positive impact it had for his team mates.
But the icing on the cake for his intimidation factor is his reputation for giving hard hits. He had strength, athleticism and speed. If you can picture a five-pound hammer hitting an anvil that was Ray Lewis – he was the hammer and the anvil. His reputation caused many running backs to call in sick when facing the Baltimore Ravens.
Ray Lewis is not shy when it comes to giving all credit for his success to his faith in Jesus Christ. He is a strong advocate for the things of faith. He leads in prayer in the clubhouse and in the community. However, his physical aggression was not motivated by sports but was a by-product of him seeking motivation to defend his mother from physical abuse, which he repeatedly witnessed as a young boy. Today, he is a motivational speaker and encourages people to
“Don’t quit. At the end of pain is success. Pain is temporary and on the other side of that pain is your promise.”
The Original Raven was impossible to block, he was a leader and one of the most charismatic, intimidating football players in NFL history. His career stat line reads: Quarterback Sacks 41.5 | Tackles 2,055 | Pass Deflections 67 | Interceptions 31 | Forced Fumbles 19 | Touchdowns 3
ROOKIE CARDS OF HALL OF FAMER RAY LEWIS
1996 Bowman’s Best, Card No. 164 (shop eBay)
This premium product depicts what I consider an average photo of our featured Hall of Famer. I love the card quality which gives us thicker card stock, high gloss and lower print runs but I wish they would’ve chosen a different photo. Also, I’m not really sure what’s going on with the card design. What is this supposed to be? Is it a make shift field? Is it a film reel?
Lots going on with card back. Multiple color fonts, name in bold font, player bio and commentary that gives resume, skills and up close sections which I really like. Again, I feel they could have used a better photo for card back.
As of the date of this post raw copies can be purchased for $15.00-$25.00; graded mint copies (9’s) sell between $30.00-$50.00 and gem mint copies (10’s) sell in the $100.00- $150.00 range.
1996 Collector’s Choice, Card No. 20 (shop eBay)
Collectors Choice was an Upper Deck product and it was the kid friendly, easy on the wallet product. This nicely designed card shows Ray Lewis in his college uniform. The card back design matches the front somewhat and gives us a good amount of commentary but fumbles the ball when it comes to stats, it only gives us the stats for the 95′ season.
As of the date of this post raw copies can be purchase for $1.00-$3.00; graded gem mint copies (10’s) sell in the $15.00-$30.00 range.
1996 Fleer, Card No. 165 (shop eBay)
1996 Fleer Football is a single series 200 card set. Cards #’d 141-180 are the rookies. Card number 165 is of our featured Hall of Famer which is 25 cards into the rookie offering within the set. So why is there a huge number 1 on the overall card design? Why is there a “No.1” on the upper left corner? Is it because he was the number one pick of the draft? No, he was 26th pick. Is it because he’s card number one? Nope. Is it because he’s the first rookie depicted in the set? No, it’s not that either. Despite my confusion overall it’s a decent looking card with rookie background and Fleer 96′ in bright red along the top right.
So I went to the cards back to see if it would explain the “1’s” …and nothing. I’m thinking perhaps some scout picked him to be No. 1 out of the rookie class, but there’s no mention of that either. Instead it features a large portrait photo of Lewis to one side and commentary to the right. Player bio is placed at bottom right in very small font.
As of the date of this post raw copies can be purchased for $1.00-$3.00; graded mint copies (9’s) sell for $10.00-$20.00 and gem mint copies (10’s) sell in the $25.00-$40.00 range.
1996 Pro Line Intense, Card No. 59 (shop eBay)
This was a rather small set in comparison to all others. Only 100 cards make up the set and there is a total of 23 rookies scattered throughout. It is a borderless photo of Lewis either laughing at something or yelling at someone. Team helmet is a nice touch at lower left of card with multi-colored name and position on a navy blue ribbon.
The card back is also a borderless photo and if you look closely you can see the whites of his eyes, I definitely would not want to be on the receiving end of this tackle. There’s a couple of text boxes, one gives player bio and the second gives player stats.
As of the date of this post raw copies can be purchased for $1.00-$3.00; graded mint copies (9’s) sell for $10.00-$30.00 and graded gem mint copies (10’s) sell in the $50.00-$100.00 range.
1996 Pro Line Memorabilia, Card No. 59 (shop eBay)
This one mimics the Pro Line Intense set in every way. Only differences would be in a foil front and the card back is laid out differently and includes commentary.
As of the date of this post raw copies can be purchased for $3.00-$5.00; graded mint copies (9’s) sell between $30.00-$60.00 and gem mint copies (10’s) sell in the $150.00- $170.00 range.
1996 Score Board Lasers, Card No. 99 (shop eBay)
This is another small set in comparison to all others. Only 100 cards make up the set and there is a total of 25 rookies scattered throughout. A plus to small sets is that they have a tendency to only give you the top-notch players in the NFL. This one is printed on a thicker 24-point card stock with a foil finish. Action photo shows us an outline that looks more like a glow, I’m assuming that’s what they consider “laser.”
Card back gives us another action photo, it looks fuzzy but that is the actual design. Photo is offset and is surrounded with player name and bio at top and stats at the bottom.
As of the date of this post raw copies can be purchased for $3.00-$5.00; graded gem mint copies sell in the $25.00-$50.00 range.
1996 Skybox Impact Rookies, Card No. 6 (shop eBay)
This full action photo shows Lewis going after someone like a freight train. Player name appears blurry and made me adjust my head thinking it was my bi-focal lens. Product brand at lower left really has some pop.
Card back is another photo of Lewis and it takes up the entire real estate. Player bio followed by name in the center and commentary towards the bottom is a bit different order of things but works with overall design of card back. Typically, player name is above the player bio.
As of the date of this post raw copies can be purchased for $1.00-$3.00; graded gem mint copies (10’s) sell in the $10.00-$20.00 range.
1996 Stadium Club, Card No 351 (shop eBay)
The rookie card of Ray Lewis can be found in the Series 2 offering. This one shows a nice action photo of Lewis who appears to be waiting for the snap or waiting for a play to unfold before he pounces. Three quarter make shift border reveals a transparent portion of border. Brand logo in red is placed at upper left and really stands out. And player name at bottom is hard to read even in person.
Card back was well thought out too. Everything is well placed and centered nicely. Different color fonts make things stand out. And instead of player commentary it gives us a Scouting Report that focuses on Lewis’ skills.
As of the date of this post raw copies can be purchased for $5.00-$10.00; graded mint copies (9’s) sell for $20.00-$30.00 and gem mint copies (10’s) sell in the $40.00-$80.00 range.