You couldn’t throw a rock the last month or so without hitting a member of the Ravens raving about linebacker Ray Lewis’ leadership qualities.
As a result, Lewis didn’t need to do much to cement his reputation in that regard this weekend. His teammates say that he went ahead and did so anyway on Saturday night, however.
Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports spoke to several members of the team who said that Lewis’ speech on Saturday night moved players to tears as he told them that they would succeed in the Super Bowl because of how much the players on the team loved one another. Lewis said that people win championships “based off love” and his words resonated with the rest of the team.
“I mean, we were ready to die for each other out there. And I know that’s a bit dramatic, but that’s the way this team is. That’s what Ray has talked about. The reason we’ve succeeded is because of the way we feel about each other. It’s something Ray Lewis has told us since Day One. ‘What would you do for the man next to you?’ For us, the answer is, ‘Anything,'” linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo said. “Love put us over the top. You wouldn’t think it, because football is a game known for machismo and violence and toughness, but love is what drove our success. Just like the most epic action movies end up being love stories – The Matrix, Star Wars, Gladiator. This Ravens team is a love story.”
As Ayanbadejo said, it isn’t something you associate with football but it certainly resonated with the Ravens on Sunday. Filling Lewis’ spot on the field seems like it might be easier than filling his role as team leader and inspiration when they get back together to defend their title.