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Brian Billick: Ray Lewis is the greatest leader I’ve ever seen

Arizona Cardinals v Baltimore Ravens Getty Images

Brian Billick was the head coach of the Ravens when they won Super Bowl XXXV, but Billick doesn’t take the credit for leading that team. Billick says that team’s leader was Ray Lewis.

Reflecting on Lewis’s announcement that he will retire after the playoffs, Billick said on Mike and Mike in the Morning that he has never seen a person who can lead a football team like Lewis can.

“He’s the greatest individual leader on a football team I’ve ever seen,” Billick said of Lewis.

Billick mentioned the November 26, 2000, game against the Browns as one that he’ll never forget: The Browns marched down the field on their opening possession and went 86 yards and scored a touchdown, which was a major disappointment for a great Baltimore defense that had already shut out four opponents that season. As the defense came to the sideline, Billick was about to gather them and address them, but Lewis took over the coaching.

“Ray looks at me and says, ‘Don’t say a thing — I got it,’” Billick said. “So I make a hard left turn to the Gatorade and get out of the way. And so for the rest of the day — keep in mind they had gone 86 yards to score — they had 124 yards total offense for the day. That team was possessed, and Ray Lewis, it was his passion, his focus, his execution.”

Amazingly, the story is even better than Billick remembers — the Browns only had 112 total yards that day, and after that opening touchdown the Ravens outscored the Browns 44-0 the rest of the way. The Ravens won all the rest of their games that season, up to and including the Super Bowl, when Lewis was the MVP.

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41 Responses to “Brian Billick: Ray Lewis is the greatest leader I’ve ever seen”
  1. southpaw2k says: Jan 3, 2013 9:23 AM

    Lewis is absolutely one of the greatest leaders the NFL has ever seen. He’s right up there with Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Joe Montana, Mike Singletary, and Reggie White. I can’t wait to see half of Baltimore gathered outside Canton in five years to watch his induction into the Hall of Fame.

  2. logicalvoicesays says: Jan 3, 2013 9:26 AM

    I’ve seen greater. Like London Fletcher.

  3. eatitfanboy says: Jan 3, 2013 9:40 AM

    Later, Billick said that he remains flabbergasted that he will apparently remain the only Super Bowl winning coach never to be given another opportunity to coach a team.

  4. conewalker says: Jan 3, 2013 9:43 AM

    I’ve got that game on tape along with many others from the 2000 season. What a dream season. They just mutilated the Browns and Bengal that year.

  5. jessethegreat says: Jan 3, 2013 9:46 AM

    That’s only because he was too blind to notice Tom Brady, Reggie White, the real LT, Joe Montana, John Elway and the elder Manning brother.

  6. ac540 says: Jan 3, 2013 9:51 AM

    Watching the 2000 Ravens defense take apart teams week after week was an amazing ride. They changed the course of football with the way to build a defense….two anchors, two pass rushing ends, and a physical secondary…and the way games are officiated.

    You could put them up against any great team in history and the 2000 Ravens…with all of their supposed deficiencies on offense…would have a chance to win because of the defense.

  7. ravenator says: Jan 3, 2013 9:55 AM

    Lewis is one of the greatest of all time. So many jealous haters just wish their team drafted him.

  8. Nofoolnodrool says: Jan 3, 2013 9:57 AM

    Whoa mr Billick. I respect Ray as being one of the best linebackers to play the game and in this day and age of the media over coverage he is over hyped by a hero needing public. He was good, very good, but he’s no Geronimo….

  9. Kyle says: Jan 3, 2013 9:57 AM

    Of course you are going to follow him. If you don’t he will possibly shoot you.

  10. PriorKnowledge says: Jan 3, 2013 10:06 AM

    Hey look… I am a rabid Redskins fan. I know how great London Fletcher is, but Ray Lewis is from another planet.

  11. wupsumskul says: Jan 3, 2013 10:08 AM

    You guys make me sick. The guys got over 2,000 tackles. If you can’t appreciate what he has done you should simply not even waste your time with the stupid comments. Im a dolphin fan and hate the ravens but if you seriously can’t appreciate what he’s done then your not a real football fan or have not played the game. You should be ashamed of yourselves for stating such idiotic comments. The guy is the Lebron of defenses. He can literally still do everything at his age for as long as he’s done it. Its just amazing to see and you should watch him in the playoffs cause you may never see him play again.

  12. hkdaddyo says: Jan 3, 2013 10:11 AM

    Yep, that was a great season for Baltimore. Ray Lewis was amped up after having led the league in stabbings the previous season.

  13. rockthered1286 says: Jan 3, 2013 10:12 AM

    Talk to anybody who has worked with Ray- players, coaches, front office personel, even people who have donated time to his charities- not one person will say one bad thing about the man.

    Cannot wait until they unveil a Ray Lewis statue (mid-dance mind you) right next to Johnny U’s at The Bank.

  14. turtlehut says: Jan 3, 2013 10:17 AM

    The best example of his leadership is how Ray lied to the police to protect his cronies after they murdered two men who irritated Ray and his possee during the 2000 Super Bowl in Atlanta

  15. steelers4385 says: Jan 3, 2013 10:19 AM

    I have a tremendous amount of respect for ray. No question one of the best leaders and football players of all time. I kind of do agree with the troll up top about lobdon fletcher tho. I think his play and leadership gets over looked alot. I wouldnt say he is better than ray but i do believe he deserves more recogintion.

  16. therealtrenches says: Jan 3, 2013 10:20 AM

    Ray Lewis is a cartoon character who shouts slogans at his teammates. Some people buy in to that kind of leadership. Others don’t.

    If Billick thinks Lewis is a good leader, I’m willing to listen. They shared a foxhole.

  17. challer9 says: Jan 3, 2013 10:22 AM

    This story is amazing. It’s always good to hear a first hand account like this rather than the talking heads on ESPN just saying “Ray Lewis is such a great leader” even though they never played with or around him.

  18. ravensallday2012 says: Jan 3, 2013 10:27 AM

    Anyone who can’t appreciate ray for his leadership just doesn’t like the guy. If u can’t acknowledge what he had done for the game you r just an idiot Point blank

  19. lovefootball4life says: Jan 3, 2013 10:28 AM

    I find it interesting that fans, who have never even met Ray Lewis let alone seen him speak in anything other than video clips, can claim that Billick who personally knew and coached him for years is wrong.

  20. stevemcilveen says: Jan 3, 2013 10:32 AM

    this ishttp://www.post-gazette.com/stories/sports/gene-collier/collier-a-fumble-in-the-super-bowl-murder-526668/ how I remember RayRay

  21. howitzer819 says: Jan 3, 2013 10:36 AM

    Did someone really say Lawrence Taylor was a better leader than Ray Lewis? Really? And also, the notion that “there are better leaders than Ray Lewis” ignores the premise of the article, which is, in Brian Billick’s OPINION, Ray Lewis is the greatest leader he has ever seen. And if you can, dig up some old ESPN footage of Manning v. Lewis, with the two spending the entire play-clock shouting audibles to their units, constantly countering what the other is doing pre-snap, it’s like watching two military tacticians devising strategies (or two chess masters if you don’t like the Modern Warfare vibe of the previous analogy).

  22. pastabelly says: Jan 3, 2013 10:49 AM

    He’s probably a great leader and definitely a great self promoter, since all of his speeches seem to be on audio clips. None of Tom Brady’s or Joe Montana’s speeches ever seem to make it to audio. Does that make them less of a leader than Lewis?

  23. Nofoolnodrool says: Jan 3, 2013 10:51 AM

    ravenator | Jan 3, 2013, 9:55 AM EST
    Lewis is one of the greatest of all time. So many jealous haters just wish their team drafted him.

    First off no one is jealous for not drafting him light years ago for today’s what have you done for me today fans.
    Second, having watched the nfl for 55 years ,IMO he would be in the top five or ten.
    Lastly, since when does having a different opinion equate to hating? Tell us raven sage from your many years of life what is hate really?

  24. backindasaddle says: Jan 3, 2013 10:56 AM

    I remember watching that Baltimore Ravens team that year and I remember how they just totally and completely shut teams down. That defense was the best defense I’ve ever seen…and that includes the 85 Bears. The 2000 Ravens defense was phenomenal. I went to a Superbowl party that year and everybody was picking the Giants. I picked the Ravens because I had watched multiple Ravens games that year….they had not. They had no clue what was coming.

  25. justwannawinna says: Jan 3, 2013 11:01 AM

    By far the greatest Linebacker of this era. Will be considered the greatest defensive leader. Hope he returns to coach one day. Is first ballot HOF. Ive been around for 56 years and have never seen a better linebacker than Ray.

  26. tightend82 says: Jan 3, 2013 11:02 AM

    Billick isn’t coaching in the NFL today because of this kind of commenting. Ray Lewis demonstrated the type of leader he is by the way he handled his friends in Atlanta. Since that episode, for some very strange reason, the NFL has portrayed him as a great Player, Role Model, and Leader….including him in as many promotional efforts as possible….what a joke, and for Billick who apparently didn’t need his Defensive Coordinator to coach his Defense to portray Ray as the BEST leader he ever saw….wow…thanks Brian, keep up that brilliant analyizing….while you remain out of the Football Coaching Ranks….with other dopes like D. Green and C. Weis…to name a few…

  27. paythevig says: Jan 3, 2013 11:02 AM

    It pains me to reflect on what could’ve been. For those who didn’t know; in ’95 the 9ers traded their first, third and fourth round picks in addition to their first round pick in ’96 to draft WR: J.J. Stokes.. The Ravens drafted Lewis with that pick in ’96…

    Not saying that we would’ve picked Sugar Ray if we had a pick, but just sayin..

    First Ballot, without a doubt.

  28. pgh15212 says: Jan 3, 2013 11:06 AM

    Everybody forgets that the Titans were actually the number one defense that year. How could the 2000 ravens be the best ever when they were not even the best that season.

    Just like the 85 bears, another flash in the pan one time championship team. How embarrassing!

  29. godofwine330 says: Jan 3, 2013 11:07 AM

    As a lifelong Browns fan who found out his team was moving to Baltimore while in boot camp (Thanks MM1 Caesar), I root for the Ravens when they are not playing the Browns. I have seen a lot of Ray Lewis throughout his career and I have nothing but the upmost respect for the man for what he has done on the football field. An amazing leader of men. To watch how players respond to and respect him makes me wish that my Browns had never left because I would have been rooting for him these 17 years in the orange and brown. I hate that he is retiring and I wish him nothing but the best in the next chapter or his life.

  30. oldirtyman says: Jan 3, 2013 11:17 AM

    That is Billick’s opinion. The greatest leader i have ever seen is Pat Tillman

  31. golonger says: Jan 3, 2013 11:39 AM

    “I’ve seen greater. Like London Fletcher.” LOL. Now THAT is funny. London Fletcher is so over-rated it is not even funny. Average at best. But not surprising coming from a delusional Redskin fan. Enjoy the beat down by the Hawks this weekend!

  32. gergie1957 says: Jan 3, 2013 12:00 PM

    He’s a tremendous leader on the field, but would you take him to a knife fight without a knife?

  33. catfanatic1979v1 says: Jan 3, 2013 12:09 PM

    And probably the most obvious juicer the NFL has ever seen……….

  34. the1bigbird says: Jan 3, 2013 12:33 PM

    Who can forget his leadership in the Atlanta prison as a captain of the inmate football team before they played the guards. His chicken dance was outstanding.

  35. psuravens19 says: Jan 3, 2013 12:37 PM

    People can hate on Ray Lewis all they want, but I bet 99% of them will be watching Ray dance on Sunday.

  36. ravenmuscle says: Jan 3, 2013 12:42 PM

    Its amazing how all these scum bags posting about using knives and stabbings aren’t banned from posting such garbage about Ray Lewis on this site on this site…MR. FLORIO.

    Everyone knows Ray stabbed no one but you let these scumbags post such garbage.
    Do these guys have dirty pictures about Mike Florio somewhere?

  37. 1oldpro says: Jan 3, 2013 12:51 PM

    When Billick was coaching, Lewis was one of the greatest players, also. If you make a list of the greatest leaders, don’t they usually fall into the greatest players’ list, too?

  38. scoobies05 says: Jan 3, 2013 1:01 PM

    well pgh…you are correct…the titans were the number one ranked defense of 2000 based on the nfl system of ranking defenses by yards allowed. but there is a reason no one talks about that. actually a few reasons…one they didnt win the super bowl. two they didnt set the record for fewest points allowed in a season. ravens did both of those thing and they beat the titans in the playoffs. to not give credit to the ravens or the 85 bears for their amazing individual seasons just shows true ignorance

  39. pizzon says: Jan 3, 2013 1:25 PM

    sounds like a cheap slap in the face to me. if he was such a great leader why doesnt he just say he is the greatest MLB he has ever seen.

  40. milkcan44 says: Jan 3, 2013 1:53 PM

    Apparently the District Attorney in Atlanta thought he was a great leader also — because they let him go.

  41. lilrob10201 says: Jan 3, 2013 4:38 PM

    I would say the best leaders on defense when I was growing up had to be Ray Lewis and Brian Dawkins.

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