Late For Work 12/4: Lewis Worthy of Hall of Fame?

Plus Sunday’s picks, Ray Lewis addresses the concussion rules and slumping sophomores.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Friday, December 4th, 2009 at 8:55 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Jamal Lewis Worthy of Hall of Fame?

Jamal Lewis, who said he plans to retire after the 2009 season, was put on the Cleveland Browns’ injured reserve list Wednesday after suffering a concussion.

Knowing his career may be over, the question that’s on everyone’s mind is, “Is Lewis worthy of the Hall of Fame?”

In 131 games, Lewis amassed more than 10,000 rushing yards and 58 touchdowns. He earned a Super Bowl ring with the Ravens in 2001, the league’s MVP award in 2003 and a Pro Bowl appearance in 2004.

Are these honors enough to put Lewis on the same level as other Hall of Famers like Eric Dickerson, Walter Payton, Lenny Moore, Gale Sayers, Marcus Allen and Barry Sanders?

ESPN.com’s AFC North blog checked in with several Hall of Fame voters Thursday to get a read on Lewis’ potential. Here are two:

John McClain, Houston Chronicle: “I’m always open to discussion. But considering all the other backs coming out with big numbers like Jerome Bettis, LaDainian Tomlinson, Curtis Martin, Edgerrin James, etc., I think he’s a long shot.”

Joe Reedy, Cincinnati Enquirer: “I think when you look at the year-by-year numbers, along with what he meant to the Ravens’ Super Bowl run in 2000 and keeping the Browns’ offense even remotely afloat the last two years, he has a legitimate candidacy. He was in only one Pro Bowl. But Lewis meant a lot to the Ravens’ offense while he was there and his 2,066-yard season in 2003 and performance in the regular-season finale that year against Pittsburgh are what got the Ravens into the playoffs.”

What do you think? Would Jamal Lewis get your Hall of Fame vote?

Many Doubt Ravens Can Beat Packers

From the six prominent sports websites I visited this morning, 23 of 33 experts picked the Packers to win the Monday night contest against the Ravens. All six of the Baltimore Sun writers picked the Packers too. The overwhelming numbers surprised me.

Green Bay is on a three-game win streak and, like the Ravens, they too are fighting for playoff positioning. Some analysts point to the fact that Baltimore hasn’t fared well against strong quarterbacks and that the Ravens’ season has been a roller coaster of highs and lows. Since they just came off an emotional overtime win against the Steelers, it may be time for another drop.

Hopefully the Ravens have it in them to prove critics wrong.

Baltimore Sun: six of six pick the Packers
WJZ’s Mark Viviano: Ravens, 24-20
Fox Sports’ Peter Schrager: Ravens, 27-23
ESPN: seven of seven pick the Packers
Yahoo! Sports: two of three pick the Packers
Sporting News: three of six pick the Ravens
USA Today: five of eight pick the Packers
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King: Ravens, 29-17

Would Ray Lewis Leave a Game After a Concussion?

In light of all the headlines concerning concussed players and the NFL’s new policy about such player’s returning to action, Ray Lewis was asked if he would take himself out of a game if he had a concussion.

“That’s a hard decision,” Lewis said. “You’ve got to ask yourself what point in the game you’re at, what stage of the season you’re at, how big is the game? Are you really needed at that point? If you’re blowing somebody out, no [don't go back in]. If you’re fighting to go to [the Super] Bowl, then you’ve got to suck it up.

“You watch a guy years ago in Terrell Davis, who did the same thing [returned to play for the Broncos in the Super Bowl], went in the game, and the coaches just told him, ‘We don’t need you to run in this play, but we need you to be in there or they won’t even think we’re running it.’ So some sacrifices you do make. Some sacrifices you do make in big games. You saw that one was made, so I think if I had the same decision, I’d do the same thing.”

Slumping sophomores

Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com has noticed a sophomore slump trend. And the best news about it? Neither Joe Flacco or Ray Rice is on that list.

Star rookies of the 2008 season, including Texans running back Steve Slaton, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, Bears running back Matt Forte and Broncos receiver Eddie Royal, are all on the decline.

Prisco says it’s difficult to overcome the focus teams put on these sophomores after stellar freshman campaigns. Plus, they can come down with a “Fat Cat Syndrome,” or a sense of false security in which players think they have arrived after one year of success.

Knock on wood, but there are no “Fat Cats” in Baltimore. Through 11 games, Flacco’s numbers are up over his 2008 freshman year – 2,744 yards, 13 TDs and 8 INTs in 2009 vs. 1,996 yards, 10 TDs and 9 INTS through 11 games in 2008.

And do I really have to justify Rice’s performances? Through 11 games in 2009 (1,403 all-purpose yards) he has already blown away his entire 2008 totals (727 all-purpose yards).

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