Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Greatest Raven Debate Goes On

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Greatest Raven Debate Goes On

Article excerpt

It is an argument that has gone on for nearly a decade: Who is the greatest player in Ravens history, offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden or linebacker Ray Lewis?

The debate seems to have hit an all-time high this past week with Ogden, the team's first draft pick ever in 1996, being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But there really shouldn't be any more arguments.

If you want the total package, which includes being a team leader, a mentor and having charisma while also being one of the best middle linebackers to ever play, then Lewis is No. 1.

If you want a player who was truly dominant, an athletic wonder, a great technician and the best to ever play the position in the history of the NFL, then it's Ogden.

Lewis had great speed and was the first middle linebacker to run sideline to sideline, which changed how his position was played. But Lewis had help throughout most of his career, including two sumo- wrestling defensive tackles in front of him in Tony Siragusa and Sam Adams, and later Haloti Ngata and Kelly Gregg.

Ogden never had help. Each week for 12 seasons, Ogden took on some of the best pass rushers in the game, and he overwhelmed all of them.

"To steal a quote, you never leave home without him," said Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome. "When we had Jonathan, we didn't care who we were playing. ... We played against some of the best pass rushers -- guys that have gone into the Hall of Fame. But when we had Jonathan, we didn't worry about those guys. And when you have someone like that, it just expands your offense and your ability to do things."

That's what few people understand. Lewis made plays that could impact a game, but Ogden changed the strategy as well -- a rarity among offensive linemen.

Lewis had great athleticism in his own right, but he wasn't a brute at linebacker who could take on blocks and shed them. Ogden took his prototype to another level.

At 6 feet, 9 inches and 345 pounds, he had the foot speed of a tight end and could bend like a guard or center to block smaller defensive tackles, ends or linebackers. …

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