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
Phil Savage was the Ravens’ director of college scouting from 1996-2002. He played an important role in the 1996 NFL Draft, when the Ravens selected Ray Lewis.
When we first got to Baltimore in 1996, one of the needs we identified ahead of the NFL Draft was a WILL linebacker, because we already had Pepper Johnson on the team at that time. Throughout the meetings in February ahead of the NFL Scouting Combine and then when we got back from all the Pro Day stuff in early April, the board stacked up with Texas A&M linebacker Reggie Brown in that WILL linebacker column — and Ray Lewis was actually in that WILL column, as well.
So that’s how Reggie ended up above Ray in our draft preference, because I guess at that moment in time, we thought Reggie was a natural fit at WILL, and we were going to try to jam Ray next to Pepper Johnson as an adjacent linebacker.
Of course, we got into the draft and the Detroit Lions took Reggie Brown, and by the time we got near the bottom of the first round, Ray was really one of the few linebackers remaining. There were probably five or six of them that we liked, and he was the last one that was left, and so that was the choice. I mean, we were happy about it, but we had no idea who we had just brought onto the team.
In the meantime, Maxie Baughan was a position coach on the team at that time, and he had gone to work Ray out. Maxie really enjoyed that workout and enjoyed being with Ray. That was sort of the final little period on the end of the sentence that kept Ray where he was on the board and in a position where we could get him.
If Reggie had been on the board, I’m assuming we would’ve taken him because he was definitely above Ray on that front board. We had a number of occasions that happened like that through the years where it was like, “What were we thinking?”
His first weekend in Baltimore, it was rookie minicamp. The scouts were assigned to help the strength coach, Jerry Simmons, do all the recording. They were going to get a baseline. What’s his strength level? And one of the drills was a towel pull-up, so they would wrap two towels over a bar and then you’d do chin-ups. Obviously, that was something that they didn’t do at the Combine or anything. So I guess Jerry had a couple little drills or measurements that he wanted. And so Lionel Vital, who’s with the Dallas Cowboys now, was recording that particular exercise.
Ray comes up and kind of takes his shirt off and does his arms back and forth and says, “Hey, what’s the record?” Lionel said, “We don’t have any records, we’re new, we’re the Ravens.” Ray jumped up there and knocked out how many ever he did. Lionel came upstairs later that afternoon and said, “This guy is going to be unreal. He’s just got leadership and passion. This guy’s going to be really good.” Lionel just saw that right away.
To read all 52 memories of No. 52, visit PressBoxOnline.com/Ray.