Special teams ace Anthony Levine Sr., who recently turned 34 years old, has become synonymous with the Baltimore Ravens ever since he joined the team in 2012.
“When you think of 41, you think of Anthony Levine,” Levine said on Glenn Clark Radio on April 9.
The veteran entering his 12th year in the NFL had a decision to make when his contract with the Ravens ran out at the conclusion of the 2020 season. Return to the place he has called home for the last nine seasons? Or venture on to a new team in the twilight of his career?
But for Levine, that decision was “a no-brainer,” as he decided to come back to the Ravens on a one-year deal earlier this month.
“I tell guys all the time the grass is not greener on the other side. Baltimore is like my second home, you know? I can’t see myself going somewhere else and playing for another organization,” Levine said.
Nicknamed “Co-Cap,” the 5-foot-11, 207-pound Levine earned the label for his leadership within Baltimore’s special teams unit throughout the past decade.
The undrafted safety has become a cornerstone of one of the league’s best special team units. He has accounted for more snaps on special teams than any other Raven since his first season with the club, posting 2,720 snaps from 2012-2020.
Though it’s a role many players may find unattractive, Levine has embraced it and has used that to propel his career from an undrafted rookie to an important piece of a team vying for a championship. Levine originally signed with the Green Bay Packers in 2010 and spent two years on their practice squad before settling in with Baltimore.
“We’ve got to be willing to do whatever the team needs and whatever I’m asked to do, whatever needs to be done, I never shied away from it,” Levine said. “… It was always like, ‘Is that what you need me to do? I’m doing it.'”
Levine has made four starts in the defensive backfield throughout his tenure in Baltimore, including three starts in 2014. Levine has racked up 137 tackles, four fumble recoveries and two interceptions during his nine years in the purple in black.
That production has helped turned “Co-Cap” into the leader he has become for the Ravens today.
“The guys have seen the way I work, the way I prepared, the way that I looked up to other guys that were older than me,” Levine said. “And I kind of looked at what they showed me and took it.”
Levine’s leadership has helped the Ravens develop defensive backs as well, from Chuck Clark to DeShon Elliott to Marlon Humphrey to Tavon Young. But in Levine’s words, he hasn’t taken it easy on them — part of a hard-nose culture Baltimore’s defense has created throughout the years.
“I give guys my honest opinion. I don’t sugarcoat it for them,” Levine said. “I tell them the truth. Some guys are reluctant to take care of some guys’ minds.”
Levine is one of five players on the Ravens to have been a part of the 2012 Super Bowl champion squad. (The others are Sam Koch, Pernell McPhee, Justin Tucker and Jimmy Smith.) Entering the last few years of his career, winning a second championship in Baltimore is yet another piece of motivation in Levine’s decision to come back.
While this Ravens team has a completely different look from the Joe Flacco-Ray Lewis era in 2012, Levine believes there are some similarities between this team and those historic Super Bowl champs.
“The only thing that we can’t compare is probably the chemistry, the brotherhood, the way that we were there for each other and we have that,” Levine said.
Levine and the Ravens squad have struggled in the playoffs the last few years, with Baltimore having not reached the AFC championship game since its Super Bowl run in early 2013. The Ravens made got knocked out in the divisional round each of the past two seasons.
But Levine thinks this year’s team has the potential to achieve even more success as he enters what could be his final year with the team.
“We definitely are right there. … Now like once you get the taste of success, you know what it feels like,” Levine said. “I think we’re really close and we can really make something happen.”
For more from Levine, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox