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What Impact Will Losing Ray Lewis Have on the Baltimore Ravens?

There’s something about Ray Lewis truly meaning what he says – even though he’s a lunatic – that gives you goosebumps.

Unfortunately, now that Lewis had torn his triceps muscle and Lardarius Webb tore his ACL, the Ravens Super Bowl chances just went way down. Webb is one of the best corners in the game and Lewis is one of the best defensive players ever. Even at 5-1, people in Baltimore can’t be too excited right – especially since the Orioles are out of the playoffs  More importantly, though, who is going to fire up the Ravens before the game, dance and act as the intimidator to opposing offenses? Isn’t that the greater loss here, at least from the Lewis perspective?

Let’s be real – Lewis isn’t the best middle linebacker in the league anymore. He’s slower and he’s not as clean with his tackles. He’s still really good, but he’s not Patrick Willis, for instance. So losing Lewis is more about the intangibles, the leadership and the ritualistic pre-game ceremony that fires the whole team up. It’s about the almost-satanic gyrating that he does when he comes out of the tunnel by himself, despite every other team in the league getting introduced as a team (I’m not knocking it, just pointing it out).

You see, it’s not like the Ravens can just go out and get themselves another murderer to plug in and play middle linebacker. The NFL doesn’t work like that. In this age, with Roger Goodell ruling with an iron fist, murderers don’t usually get to stay in the NFL once they’ve…you know…murdered. I know that we don’t have a lot of evidence to back that up, but common sense and Goodell’s track record indicate that it might be against the personal conduct policy.

Part of Ray Lewis’ intimidation factor stemmed from the fact that he once killed a guy. If I was on the offense, I’d always keep in the back of my mind that if I somehow pissed off Lewis during a game, he might actually hunt me down and kill me off the field.

But in all honesty, it is a huge loss. I mean, the guy is a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year and a 13-time Pro Bowler. You don’t replace that too easily either.

I remember when Tom Brady got hurt in 2008. I was in South Carolina watching the game, while my family was in Rhode Island. Bernard Pollard wiped out Brady’s knees and we all texted and called each other afterwards, and it genuinely felt like someone we knew had been hurt or something (as insane and over-the-top as that sounds). It was really, really somber. Phone calls started out with things like, ‘Hey, how are you doing? You hanging in there?’ Over the next few days, it was all we thought about. We’d see replays of old games on the NFL Network and not be able to watch them. Things like that.

Eventually we got over it and everyone actually enjoyed the Matt Cassell season, but Brady’s injury was a pretty traumatic moment when it happened. I feel for the Ravens, because it’s probably pretty similar. When there is so much invested in one player, it seems like it’s all lost when that one player gets hurt. It’s not.

The Pats went 11-5 that year without their star quarterback. At 5-1, the Ravens will be fine without Lewis. Webb hurts too, but it still doesn’t seem crippling. The biggest thing for the Ravens is simply getting over the fact that Lewis and Webb aren’t out there. Once they get past that, and aren’t deflated just by Lewis and Webb’s absence, it’ll be alright. Trust me. (Because I’m a Patriots fan who survived 2008, I apparently consider myself some sort of expert…)

I wouldn’t bet on the Ravens to win the Super Bowl now, but I wouldn’t really have bet on them before either. In a wide open AFC, they’re still one of the best three or four teams. They’re just down one of the best cover corners in the game as well as their inspirational leader and leading tackler…who also happens to be a murderer.

Let’s hope that now, while he’s out of football, he doesn’t start engaging in the evil – which we normal people apparently call “the crime.”

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