Late For Work 8/26: SI.com: Lewis The Best No. 52 Of All Time

Plus John Eisenberg calls for the Ravens not to trade Willis McGahee.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Thursday, August 26th, 2010 at 8:59 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

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SI.com: Lewis The Best No. 52 Of All Time

Sports Illustrated released its collection of best players in NFL history according to jersey number.

The Ravens’ own No. 52, Ray Lewis, was crowned as the best player to ever wear the number, edging out runner-up, Steelers center Mike Webster, who was named to nine Pro Bowls and won four Super Bowl titles.

Those are some pretty legit accomplishments, but not enough to knock Lewis from his spot as Top Dawg.

Houston Oilers linebacker Robert Brazile, Cleveland Browns center Frank Gatski and New England Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson were also named as No. 52s worthy of consideration.

While Lewis was the only Raven to make the list, safety Ed Reed was chosen as the runner-up to the Lions’ all-time great No. 20 – running back Barry Sanders. (This is a new one. I’m accustomed to debates between Reed and Steelers safety Troy Polamalu. What are your thoughts on who is the better No. 20? At this point, I’d have to agree with our friends at SI.)

SI.com wasn’t the only national media outlet to praise Lewis yesterday.

The two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Super Bowl MVP, 11-time Pro Bowler and inspirational leader was also named by ESPN as the most-indispensable Ravens player heading into 2010, Lewis’ 15th year in the league.

“Lewis, 35, is no longer the Ravens’ best player,” wrote James Walker. “That distinction could be shared by Ray Rice, Ed Reed and Haloti Ngata. But Lewis’ leadership still makes him Baltimore’s most indispensable player.

“Lewis remains the heart and soul of a team many feel is a Super Bowl contender this year. Physically, the Ravens are stacked with talent at nearly every position. But there’s no one in the locker room who can replace Lewis’ role as the motivational leader.”

Eisenberg:  Don’t Trade Willis McGahee

It is unknown whether the Ravens are active in the trade market in search of another cornerback, but if they are, John Eisenberg has a message for General Manager Ozzie Newsome:

Don’t trade running back Willis McGahee, the columnist wrote for CSNbaltimore.com.

Several reports have named McGahee as attractive trade bait, but Eisenberg wonders why a team that went to the trouble of signing quarterback Marc Bulger, an expensive insurance policy for a Super Bowl run, would trade away another insurance policy for the running back position.

“An injury to [Ray] Rice, always a possibility, won’t derail the season if McGahee, 28, is around. Le’Ron McClain could also fill in, but McClain and McGahee would keep the running game strong,” Eisenberg wrote.

“And even though he is behind Rice on the depth chart, McGahee is a lot more than just an insurance policy. He remains a major ingredient in the Ravens’ offensive formula.”

This “major ingredient” is a dependable force in goal-line situations and cuts down on the wear and tear on Rice. Plus, there aren’t salary cap restrictions this season, so Eisenberg says Baltimore is in a position to carry McGahee’s reported $3.5 million salary.

“If the Ravens are going for broke this season – and it certainly appears they are – they’re better off with McGahee than with whatever they might get in return for him,” Eisenberg concluded.

Quick Hits

The Ravens unveiled their new fight song last night, linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo could land on the PUP, Gaither may be back by Week 1 while Cousins is hoping for a return this Saturday and Mt. Cody has some swelling in his knee.

Here are other quick hits from around Web:

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