Peyton Manning saw plenty during his illustrious NFL career, but who was the toughest player he had to face on the field? Most might feel it to be be a hard question to answer, but surprisingly, Manning had an easy answer.
Baltimore Ravens’ linebacker Ray Lewis makes the cut as the toughest player Manning had to tangle with in his NFL career. Recently, Manning put out a Twitter post which provided an answer to this critical question.
Peyton Manning’s toughest opponent of his career?
— NFL (@NFL) May 12, 2020
“If I had to pick just one, I’d go with linebacker Ray Lewis of the Ravens. He had tremendous athletic ability, big, strong, fast. But he had the smarts. He had a great appreciation for the cerebral part of the game,” Manning said. “He studied film like a quarterback. Always thought he was trying to kind of move the direction he thought the play I was trying to call an audible to, so a little bit of a chess match. It didn’t hurt having Ed Reed behind him who was equally as tough. I always felt like I was kind of playing against that linebacker or that safety, but if I had to pick one, I’d go with Ray Lewis.”
As soon as Lewis saw the shout out from Manning, he provided one of his own on Twitter, saying the quarterback provided him plenty of sleepless nights during his decorated career.
The greatest to ever do it number 18 my friend. Gave me a lot of sleepless nights:
Repost NFL Network Peyton Manning’s toughest opponent of his career?
— Ray Lewis (@raylewis) May 12, 2020
Obviously, it’s great to see a pair of legends connecting and sharing the deep respect they have for one another after over a decade of fierce battle.
Ray Lewis Career Stats
Lewis played for 17 sterling years in the NFL with the Ravens after being the team’s top pick in the 1996 NFL Draft. He piled up 2,061 tackles, 41.5 sacks, collected 31 interceptions and forced 17 fumbles. He made an amazing 13 Pro Bowls in addition to being a 2 time NFL Defensive Player of the Year award winner. Lewis helped lead the Ravens to a pair of Super Bowls in 2000 and 2012. As a result, he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame shortly after his retirement.
More than all of this, Lewis was an inspirational figure for the Ravens and was the heart and soul of the team. That’s likely just what Manning is pointing to as it relates to his explanation of why he reveres Lewis so much for his work.
Ravens Super Bowl History
The Ravens had a chance to make some serious noise in 2019 after their solid start, but were unable to get back to their Super Bowl roots, it will become the third time the team has taken home a Lombardi Trophy. The 2000 Ravens managed to cruise to the title with defense, and the 2012 Ravens shocked plenty of folks to take home Super Bowl XLVII with their solid teamwork.
With the team coming back to relevance behind an exciting young quarterback and a defense which is also playing well, fans will undoubtably see parallels between the squads of the present and future and some of Baltimore’s better teams of the past. All it takes to invigorate a fanbase is a winning team with captivating personalities.
Baltimore’s Super Bowl winners of the past have had these elements in spades. Names like Ray Lewis, Tony Siragusa, Shannon Sharpe, Haloti Ngata and certainly Smith himself come to mind as examples of Super Bowl winning players who have made a statement in the city.
Will names like Jackson, Earl Thomas and Marquise Brown join them in the future? Fans should be excited to watch and see, and certainly, 2020 offers the team another chance to get back to this legendary level on the field.
That’s a tradition Lewis started and Manning, one of the game’s true greats, certainly appreciates.