Late For Work 7/16: Lewis, The Godfather of Inside Linebackers

Plus Shayne Graham seeking revenge and Ravens who will make their Pro Bowl debut.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Friday, July 16th, 2010 at 9:10 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Lewis, The Godfather Of Inside Linebackers

Considering the physical demand at the position, there’s no way a 35-year-old should top “best inside linebacker” lists anymore.

The decade-younger Patrick Willis of the 49ers has been the trendy pick as of late, while many are saying the Ravens’ Ray Lewis has lost a step.

That’s gibberish, says NFL Network’s Solomon Wilcots.

In fact, Wilcots believes Ray Lewis is still the best inside linebacker “by far.”

“Still at No. 1, after 14 years in the league, he’s a poster boy for middle linebackers, the Godfather and still reigning champion, that’s right – Ray Lewis,” Wilcots animatedly declared.

“He can run, hit, cover, a wicked tackler. He can wreck your game plan – just ask the San Diego Chargers.”

Wilcots’ Top 5 list is as follows:

1. Ray Lewis, 11 Pro Bowls
2. Patrick Willis, 3 Pro Bowls
3. John Beason, 2 Pro Bowls
4. DeMeco Ryans, 2 Pro Bowls
5. Lofa Tatupu, 3 Pro Bowls

The way Ray Ray continues to defy age is superhuman. In fact, I’m starting to think that Lewis is the inspiration behind the Dos Equis’ “Most interesting man.”

Consider these descriptions from the popular commercials and tell me I’m wrong….

  • “Some say he found the fountain of youth, but didn’t drink because he wasn’t thirsty.”
  • “If he were to punch you in the face, you would have to fight the urge to thank him.”
  • “Sharks have a week dedicated to him.”
  • “His charm is so contagious vaccines have been created for it.”
  • “He once went to a psychic to warn her.”
  • “Even his enemies list him as their emergency contact number.”
  • “He’s a lover, not a fighter, but he’s also a fighter, so don’t get any ideas.”

Walker: Graham Seeking Revenge

“In sports, revenge is one of the strongest forms of motivation,” said ESPN’s James Walker.

That’s why Walker put together a list of five players who are seeking revenge when they go head-to-head against their former team in 2010.

Ravens kicker Shayne Graham topped the list.

At the end of his tenure with the Cincinnati Bengals, Graham developed a reputation for not being clutch and, assuming he beats out Billy Cundiff for the job, he’ll kick twice against his former team and may have the chance to kick one that beats them this year.

Knocking On The Pro Bowl Door

ESPN senior analyst John Clayton says there are two Ravens that could make their Pro Bowl debuts this year: guard Ben Grubbs and quarterback Joe Flacco.

Clayton’s Take On Grubbs: The AFC guard spot is wide open as far as the Pro Bowl is concerned. Nine-time AFC Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca was cut and moved to the Arizona Cardinals. Patriots guard Logan Mankins could be a holdout because he’s not happy with his contract offer. That puts San Diego Chargers three-time Pro Bowler Kris Dielman at the head of the class and moves everybody else up. Grubbs was a first alternate last season and the Ravens’ line projects to be even better with Michael Oher moving to left tackle.

Clayton’s Take On Flacco: OK, I’m going to again put myself in the line of fire for putting Flacco among the elite quarterbacks in the league. Calm down and follow my logic for a second. The Ravens have a great chance of winning the AFC North this year, which would be Flacco’s third playoff run. Plus, other quarterbacks might pull out. Don’t forget, the three quarterbacks who played for the AFC in last season’s Pro Bowl were Matt Schaub, Vince Young and David Garrard. Flacco could win that race.

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