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
Jarret Johnson played linebacker for the Ravens from 2001-2011.
During lunch at training camp, they make the rookies stand up and say their name, school, signing bonus deal, sing a song, whatever. And I’m nervous, so I stand up and I’m like, “Hey, I’m Jarrett Johnson, University of Alabama, defensive tackle.”
Then, from the back of the room Ray goes, “You play what?” And I was like, “Uh, what?” He goes, “What position did you say you play?” I was like, “I’m a defensive tackle.” He’s like, “Defensive tackle!?!” And he picks up his tray, slams it on the table, gets up and walks out.
I felt like I wanted to quit. I was like, oh my god, future Hall of Famer, league MVP hates me because I don’t know why.
I later found out that Ray liked big defensive tackles and was always jockeying for big defensive tackles. But what’s interesting is their plan was not to play me at defensive tackle, their plan was for me to be a SAM (strong outside linebacker). And I ended up being a huge SAM and had a great career defending Ray from fullbacks and guards and whatever. But it was definitely a welcome-to-the-NFL moment.
We became really tight, we ended up being good friends, but he was not a fan of me being a defensive tackle. I know to fans and people around the league, Ray’s one of the few players who carries a super hero image. We jokingly called him Achilles, but to us he really was. He was an unbelievable leader, extremely smart. If he told us to do it, we freaking did it. The fact that he’s going to the Hall of Fame, I can tell my kids that I had the opportunity to play with one of the greatest.
To read all 52 memories of No. 52, visit PressBoxOnline.com/Ray.