Future NFL Hall of Famer and long time Pittsburgh Steelers rival Ray Lewis has announced his retirement.
Let’s state clearly and unequivocally for the record that Ray Lewis deserves the praise headed his way. He’s a legit first ballot Hall of Famer, one of the greatest linebackers in his era, and a leader of what has been a perennial playoff contender.
- But Ray Lewis is not the greatest defender in NFL history.
That fact should seem self evident, but ESPN’s (Baltimore bred and based) James Hensley wasted little time in declaring Ray Lewis as the greatest defender in NFL history.
He of course conveniently avoided comparing Lewis to one player, one player who played in the division he covers, one who clearly must be ranked above Lewis.
- And that player is Joe Greene.
Joe Greene earned that distinction by serving as the foundation for four Super Bowl Championships. His selection signaled a sea change in the fortunes of a franchise that had done nothing but lose for 40 years. Teams routinely double blocked Greene, and Greene routinely got to the quarterback.
“Mean” Joe Greene personally paved the way for the Immaculate Reception, but going down to Houston and leading a Steelers team missing L.C. Greenwood, Jon Kolb, Gerry Mullins, Sam Davis, Dwight White, Steve Furness and Terry Bradshaw all either sat out the game or left due injury.
It turns out they didn’t need any of them. They had Joe Greene who:
- Sacked the quarterback 5 times
- Blocked a field goal
- Recovered a fumble that set up a field goal
- Forced another fumble that set up a field goal
That’s a nine point swing in a game that the Steelers needed to win and that they won 9-3.
Ray Lewis had a lot of great games for Baltimore. He was a dominate figure in many of them. But did he ever single handedly win a game? (Oh, and Joe Greene also had 3 more Super Bowl rings than Lewis….)
Steelers Nation: To the Barricades!
So let’s give Ray Lewis his due. He’s not only a true great of the game, but he’s also one of the few greats in the post-Freeman McNeil era (that’s the court case that brought free agency to the NFL) that played his entire career with one game.
Good for Ray.
- But let’s keep things in perspective.
ESPN is currently (as of 1/05/13) running a poll asking fans to vote on who is the greatest NFL defender of all time.
|Joe Greene trails Ray Lewis (as of 1/5/13) in this ESPN Poll|
Currently Ray Lewis is leading that poll and leading by a wide margin.
It shouldn’t be that way and it doesn’t have to be that way fortunately, because you my fellow citizens of Steelers Nation, have a voice.
- You can go to ESPN’s poll and vote now to correct this miscarriage of justice.
Click here now to vote to ensure that Joe Greene earns his rightful recognition as a better player than Ray Lewis. While you’re at it, cast a good vote for Rod Woodson, who was certainly better than Dieon Sanders.
Go to ESPN and vote.