June 5, 2014

MVP Profile: Ray Lewis, 2003

Linebacker, Baltimore Ravens

Age: 28
8th season in pro football & with Ravens
College: Miami (FL)
Height: 6’1”   Weight: 245

Lewis was chosen by the Ravens in the first round of the 1996 NFL draft, was inserted into the starting lineup at middle linebacker as a rookie, and had an immediate impact. He was chosen to the Pro Bowl for the first time in ’97 and was a consensus first-team All-NFL selection in 1999. With outstanding instincts, intensity, and speed that allowed him to cover a large area and make plays, Lewis was well-established as one of the premier linebackers in the NFL. The only concerns about him pertained to off-field issues following the ’99 season surrounding an altercation outside an Atlanta nightclub that ended in two stabbing deaths, but after a plea bargain that included his testimony against two associates (Lewis was also heavily fined by the NFL), he was back in action in 2000 and received NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors from the Associated Press as the Ravens went all the way to a Super Bowl victory. Lewis was a consensus first-team All-NFL selection for the third straight year in 2001 as well as Pro Bowl choice for the fifth consecutive season. He adjusted well to a shift to inside linebacker as the Ravens switched to a 3-4 defense in ’02 but he was limited to five games due to a shoulder injury.

2003 Season Summary
Appeared in all 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Sacks – 1.5
Interceptions – 6 [7, tied with nine others]
Most interceptions, game – 1 on six occasions
Int. yards – 99 [15]
Most int. return yards, game – 37 (on 1 int.) vs. Denver 10/26
Int. TDs – 1 [7, tied with many]
Fumble recoveries – 2
Forced fumbles – 2
Tackles – 121
Assists – 42

Postseason: 1 G (AFC Wild Card playoff vs. Tennessee)
Sacks – 0
Interceptions – 0
TD – 0

Awards & Honors:
NFL Defensive Player of the Year: AP
1st team All-NFL: AP, PFWA, Sporting News
1st team All-AFC: Pro Football Weekly
Pro Bowl

Ravens went 10-6 to finish first in the AFC North while leading the NFL in sacks (47) and fewest rushing touchdowns (6, tied with Tampa Bay). Lost AFC Wild Card playoff to Tennessee Titans (20-17).

Other than 2005, when a hamstring injury cost him significant playing time, Lewis remained a regular Pro Bowl choice through 2011, his next-to-last season at age 36. Overall, Lewis played for 17 years, all with Baltimore, and recorded 41.5 sacks, intercepted 31 passes, and was credited with over 1500 tackles. He was a consensus first-team All-NFL selection seven times, received at least some second-team recognition after four other seasons, and was chosen to the Pro Bowl on 13 occasions. Lewis capped his career in 2012 by playing in another Super Bowl, also won by the Ravens.


MVP Profiles feature players who were named MVP or Player of the Year in the NFL, AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press, Pro Football Writers Association, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, Maxwell Club – Bert Bell Award, or the league itself). Also includes Associated Press NFL Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year.