Late For Work 5/14: Lewis Helped Phelps Rekindle Olympic Fire

Lewis No. 5 Maryland athlete of all-time. Déjà vu on offensive line? Ravens mama’s boys.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Monday, May 14th, 2012 at 8:59 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Lewis Helped Phelps Rekindle Olympic Fire

I personally have countless inspiring memories from M&T Bank Stadium.

But one of my favorites has nothing to do with football.

It was after a preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings in 2008, when stadium officials kept the bright lights shining, handed out “Ravens For Phelps” posters and broadcast a live simulcast of Baltimore’s own Michael Phelps winning his historic eighth consecutive gold medal at the Olympics in Beijing.

And if it weren’t for Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, we may have missed the chance to watch Phelps compete for more medals at the upcoming London 2012 Summer Olympics.

Phelps told The Baltimore Sun that Lewis helped him overcome post-Beijing burnout and motivated him to continue his rigorous training for his fourth and final Olympics this summer.

“Someone who helped me find the passion back was Ray Lewis,” Phelps said. “He’s been able to help me kind of just find me.

“I love to watch him play. It sends chills up my spine. And his words are so powerful. It’s what friends are for.”

Before finding his way back, Phelps reportedly slept in and skipped practices, finding himself losing to swimmers he had previously beaten. But he is back on track and trying to soak up every moment, knowing this will likely be his last chance to swim on an Olympic stage.

“I had to find the passion back inside of me,” he said. “That’s what has me still here today.”

The 26-year-old Olympian is now in Baltimore, training in the same pool where he learned to swim. He cherishes his time at home and finds comfort from it.

“I grew up watching Cal [Ripken] do his thing. Ray is a good friend of mine,” Phelps said. “Baltimore is my hometown, and it’s where I grew up. I’m always going to have a place there. I love Baltimore, I love being close to [where] the Ravens play and close to the water. That means a lot to me.”

Lewis No. 5 Maryland Athlete Of All-Time

Lewis was honored to hear he was the fifth-ranked Maryland athlete of all time.

The Baltimore Sun is counting down the top 175 and Lewis finds himself amongst elite company.

“Look at the guys on that list, [Johnny] Unitas and Brooks [Robinson], and the impact they had. They were staples in this city, known as much for what they did off the field as on it,” Lewis said. “When I look at the history here, with Babe [Ruth] and Cal I think, ‘Wow.’ For me to come under that umbrella shows that people believe in me.

“And I’m number five? That’s a good number. It’s honorable just to be there.”

A sure first-ballot Hall of Famer, Lewis is already a 13-time Pro Bowler, seven-time All-Pro and the MVP of the Super Bowl-winning Ravens in 2001.

The Sun has yet to reveal its top three picks, but Nos. 10-4 are: Baltimore Bullets center Wes Unseld (No. 10), former Baltimore Colts offensive lineman Jim Parker (9), former Major Leaguer Jimmie Foxx (8), Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps (7), Hall of Fame former Oriole Cal Ripken Jr. (6), Lewis (5) and former Orioles star Frank Robinson (4).

Déjà vu On Offensive Line?

For the second year in a row, the Ravens are preparing for a season with uncertainty surrounding the offensive line.

With questions surrounding both tackle positions last year, the unit didn’t fall into place until the team took a chance on Bryant McKinnie in late August.

Now with Ben Grubbs gone, McKinnie trying to control his weight and Birk “on the wrong side of 35,” Football Outsiders’ Danny Tuccitto believes the offensive line is still the Ravens’ biggest need.

“You’d think the Ravens would have learned their lesson,” wrote Tuccitto. “Yet here we are entering 2012, and it’s déjà vu all over again.”

The NFL analyst isn’t sold on the idea of shifting offensive linemen– Kelechi Osemele, Gino Gradkowski and Jah Reid – away from positions they’ve mostly played recently and hoping that one of them can fill the hole at left guard.

“Versatility is oftentimes a virtue when it comes to NFL offensive linemen. However, there’s a fine line between overemphasis on versatility and having a line that embodies the phrase ‘jack of all trades, master of none,’” wrote Tuccitto. “There’s something to be said for Baltimore’s straightforward situation last year, wherein everyone was playing his ‘natural’ position, Reid came in if a tackle got hurt and [Andre] Gurode entered if a guard or center was injured.”

If the Ravens are still looking for veteran depth, Tuccitto named former Chargers left tackle Marcus McNeill, former Steelers left tackle Max Starks and former Titans right guard Jake Scott as the best available free agents.

Ravens Mama’s Boys

Starting fullback Vonta Leach, 2012’s seventh-round pick DeAngelo Tyson, backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor and outside linebacker Paul Kruger are all hopelessly devoted to their moms.

Each Raven gave a shout-out to the special woman in their lives on Mother’s day, giving her credit for getting them this far.

(How awesome is Taylor’s grandma – at least that’s who I’m assuming she is – who appears to have no interest in a Twitter photo op?)


From left to right:

vleach44: My mom happy mother’s day. She made me the man I am today

Tyson_94: My blessing…love her to death…Happy Mothers Day

TyrodTaylor: Happy mothers day from my grandma house








KrugerMomma: I Love my Precious Children! So Happy to be their Mother!

pkruger99: No one could ask for a better mother, @KrugerMomma! I miss you & love you.  I would not be anything without you.

Quick Hits 

  • _KIDRaven_ [Fifth-round pick Asa Jackson]: Well damn. I think my mom mighta forgot she was picking me up from the airport hahahaha. I know it’s ur day Karen but damn! Lol [Twitter] 
  • TSTREETER8: Feeling down but won’t let it get me down [Twitter] 
  • _KIDRaven_: 5 great practices in 3 days. Mini camp was serious in the 410. Can’t wait to get back out her wit da nation!!! Love y’all [Twitter] 
  • RavensInsider: Among the tryout players at Ravens minicamp: Rashad Carter, Chester Stewart, Anthony Green, Matt Batsavage, Bruce Figgins, Patrick Moran. [Twitter] 
  • RavensInsider: Courtney Upshaw plans to drop some pounds: ‘I’ll definitely be going down to get myself prepared conditioning-wise to make a starting job.’ [Twitter]
  • Asked by a fan if John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco would be on the hot seat if Baltimore missed the playoffs this year, Jamison Hensley responded: “Are you not aware that the Ravens and Flacco have made the playoffs for the past four seasons? If you think they would be on the hot seat after missing the playoffs for one year, you have crazy expectations.” [ESPN]
  • Artj97: Keys to the jones sucess. Must see video!!! [Twitter]

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