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 Glenn Clark
Brad Jackson played linebacker for the Ravens from 1999-2001.
Leading up into the Super Bowl, the NFL, being the NFL, sent Ray and the team a letter saying that if he did the dance during the Super Bowl, he was going to be fined X amount of dollars. So, leading up to the Super Bowl, until the couple days prior, he would talk to us linebackers, and he just didn’t know. “Should I do the dance? Should I not do the dance?” So our true leaders that we had — the Tony Siragusas, the Rob Burnetts — everybody said they would chip in and help pay the fine because it was important.
We already were confident. Brian Billick told us leading up to the Denver game, the wild-card game at home, the first playoff game in Ravens history, that if we beat Denver, we would be World Champions. Brian was full of bravado; that was one thing that made us a great defense and a championship team, he let us be us. He always said, “Express yourself, do whatever you want, as long as you don’t hurt the team, do not be the weak link.”
So literally, Super Bowl Sunday, we still don’t know, like, “OK, we’re going to pay for Ray’s fine.” So we come in, we go out for warm-ups and come back in, we do our usual routine, everybody takes a knee, we do the Lord’s Prayer. Brian gets up, and he says a few words, and he says typical Brian stuff, and I’ll never forget he was like, “Men, they don’t know how fast and how physical and violent we are. Show them right from the beginning.” Brian turns to go to walk out of the locker room, everybody’s like, “Alright!”
A little bit hype, you know, “Let’s go guys! Let’s go!” And in typical Brian Billick fashion, he turns around and he says, “Ray — I’ll pay the fine; do the effing dance.” And the roof came off the locker room. We’ve all seen Ray do the dance throughout years; he would always do the dance and then he’d run down into the gauntlet where the players were always waiting. If you go back and watch the replay, you’re going to see players start running back toward Ray at the tunnel, and he and I have always talked about this, that he has never hit the squirrel as hard as he did on Super Bowl Sunday in 2001.
To read all 52 memories of No. 52, visit PressBoxOnline.com/Ray.