Ravens special teams ace Anthony Levine Sr. isn’t surprised he was able to work out a deal to remain in Baltimore — but he’s a little bummed about a recent change to the landscape of the AFC.
Levine said he had productive conversations with Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta and head coach John Harbaugh after the 2019 season, leading him to believe that he’d be back in 2020. The Ravens announced March 23 that Levine agreed to a one-year deal.
“I talked to Eric at the end of the season. Me and him had a great conversation. I told him that I wanted to be back. He told me he wanted me to be back,” Levine said on Glenn Clark Radio March 24. “Coach Harbs, all my coaches wanted me to come back, so I was never really worried about it. Everybody knows I want to retire a Raven. I want to be here. I knew eventually that it was going to happen.”
Levine, 33, was signed by the Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent out of FCS Tennessee State in 2010 and spent two years on the Packers’ practice squad before latching on with Baltimore, where he’s been from 2012-2019. He’s played in all 16 games every season since 2013.
Levine is one of five Ravens remaining from the 2012 Super Bowl championship team; the others are punter Sam Koch, kicker Justin Tucker, long snapper Morgan Cox and cornerback Jimmy Smith. Though he only played in two games in 2012, Levine got to spend time around a veteran-laden defense led by Pro Football Hall of Famers Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.
Now, as Levine’s nickname “Co Cap” suggests, he’s the veteran showing the way.
“When I came in, I had great leaders around me that showed me the way, so I’ve just been doing those things that those guys taught me,” Levine said. “It’s all about my hard work. They see the work that I put in. They see how hard I work, and they see everything, the way I take care of my body and all that. They respect that. I can tell them to work hard, but they see me doing it. All my teammates respect that. They show me that type of respect, then. I embrace that.”
The 5-foot-11, 207-pound Levine, a safety by trade, has long been a special teams ace for the Ravens and played a team-high 71.6 percent of the Ravens’ special teams snaps in 2019. He’s also used as a linebacker in dime packages to get speed on the field; he played 17 percent of the team’s defensive snaps last year.
On special teams, Levine plays alongside younger players who haven’t necessarily broken through on offense or defense but are tasked with helping the team win in other ways. Chuck Clark, who was drafted out of Virginia Tech in 2017, played 75 and 78 percent of the Ravens’ special teams snaps in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
“That’s a guy who was around me awhile on special teams,” Levine said of Clark. “He played his role, did everything he had to do and when his time came, he took his opportunity and he ran with it.”
Tony Jefferson’s season-ending knee injury in 2019 opened the door for Clark to get on the field at safety, and Clark busted the door down. He made 12 starts, making 73 tackles and intercepting a pass. Clark signed a three-year extension worth $10 million guaranteed in February.
“He definitely owes me a dinner now,” Levine joked.
What Levine, Clark and the rest of the Ravens will see once they’re able to report back to Owings Mills, Md., is an altered landscape in the AFC. Tom Brady recently signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, signaling the end of a wildly successful era piloted by Brady and head coach Bill Belichick. The two won six Super Bowls and appeared in nine.
The road to the Super Bowl typically ran through New England, and in January 2013, the Ravens were up to the task. Baltimore beat the Patriots, 28-13, in the AFC championship game en route to a Super Bowl title. The Ravens travel to New England in 2020, but they won’t be facing Brady, much to the dismay of Levine.
“When you beat the Patriots with Tom Brady, it’s like beating the Bulls when they had Michael Jordan,” Levine said. “You don’t want to beat the Bulls and Michael Jordan’s not playing. You beat Scottie Pippen and Toni Kucoc. I want to beat Jordan, too. … To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best.”
For more from Levine, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox