As Ray Lewis prepares to take his place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, teammates, coaches, opponents, family and members of the media reflect on the legacy of the legendary Ravens linebacker with their favorite memories and never-before-heard stories.
As told to Stan Charles
Bennie Thompson played 11 seasons in the NFL, including four with the Baltimore Ravens as a special teams player from 1996-1999. He also spent six years as an assistant special teams coach from 2000-2005. For a couple of seasons, he worked out regularly with Ray Lewis and Michael McCrary at the team’s facility.
Ray, Mike and I worked out four days a week — Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. We had a time set that we had to be there and ready to go at 6:00 every morning. And we had a bet going that whoever came late or whoever didn’t show up had to fuel up the other two guys’ cars with gas. To be honest with you, nobody was ever late and nobody was ever filled up.
The routine was mostly during the season. We kind of competed against each other, which made all three of us much better.
I remember Ray talking about how he wanted to play X amount of years and he was going to do this and do that, and I suggested to him that, you know, weights don’t make you a better football player, but they help prevent those small injuries. And Ray never really had the torn hamstring where he missed two or three games or the torn muscle where he missed a couple games. The weights prevent the nagging, small injuries that keep you out of a lot of football games. And that’s what I tried to teach to the young kids, as I did with Ray.
I used to sit next to Ray every day in meetings. And Ray is one of the only guys who never fell asleep during a meeting. People think Ray was built as a football player to do what he did. Ray was built to be a student of the game. That’s what made Ray so great. Ray knew most of where the play was going to go before the play even went. He always said he wanted to be the greatest, and he worked his tail off to become who he is today.
I used to look at him and say, “This guy’s crazy.” But after watching his workout habits, his off-the-field habits, I started looking at him a little different. He might be on to something here. And then as he got further and further, I’m like, “Yeah, he is on to something.”
I’m very, very happy for him.
To read all 52 memories of No. 52, visit PressBoxOnline.com/Ray.