Ravens Greats Get Pro Football Hall of Fame Boost

Ray Lewis

Getty Ray Lewis could be joined by two former Ravens in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Ray Lewis, Jonathan Ogden and Ed Reed occupy places in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as great players for the Baltimore Ravens. All three played their careers in Baltimore, but the AFC North franchise has a strong chance to send two more former players to Canton.

Both have qualified for the semi-final stage of the voting process for the class of 2023. While they each flourished with the Ravens, the duo also boosted their Hall-worthy CVs at other stops around the NFL.

Their legacies with the Ravens are focused on the big plays they brought to the passing game for a team traditionally known for its defense. One member of the duo even helped the Ravens win their second Super Bowl.


Dynamic Duo Deserve Enshrinement

Anquan Boldin and Steve Smith sr. are two of the 28 ex-players who made it to the penultimate stage of voting:

There’s a strong case for both to be rewarded with enshrinement. Boldin has the hardware after being a key factor in the Ravens winning Super Bowl XLVII at the expense of the San Francisco 49ers to culminate the 2012 season.

It was Boldin’s best year with the Ravens, 65 catches for 921 yards and four touchdowns on 112 targets. While his regular-season production was relatively modest, Boldin came alive in the playoffs.

He caught a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts in the Wildcard Round, before burning the New England Patriots twice in the AFC Championship Game. Boldin culminated an all-time postseason run for the Ravens by making six catches for 104 yards and a score against the Niners.

More than his numbers, Boldin added a sense of toughness to the Ravens’ offense to match the hard-nosed nature of a defense led by Lewis, Reed and edge-rusher Terrell Suggs. Boldin’s size and ability to win over the middle also helped make Joe Flacco a better quarterback.

Those same qualities allowed Boldin to enter the NFL record books as a rookie for the Arizona Cardinals in 2003:

Boldin enjoyed his best years with the Cards, tallying five 1,000-yard seasons. One of those came in 2008 when Boldin helped propel the Cardinals to a first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history, where they came up on the short end against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Two more 1,000-yard campaigns with the 49ers helped bookend a career that reached its ultimate peak with the Ravens. Smith can’t say the same, but his case is no less strong.


Dominant WR Just Missed Greatness With the Ravens

Smith wasn’t as well-travelled as Boldin, but this two-team playmaker put up more dominant numbers. Those statistics included eight 1,000-yard seasons, seven of them with the Carolina Panthers.

Smith’s last banner campaign came with the Ravens in 2014. He caught 79 passes for 1,065 yards and six touchdowns. Not bad for a 35-year-old who averaged 13.5 yards per reception that year and never lost his ability to stretch the field.

Smith helped a loaded Ravens team reach the Divisional Playoffs that season, where a few plays the league later deemed illegal helped the Pats complete a comeback from 28-14 down on home soil.

One of Smith’s best games in ’14 came against his old team the Panthers. He recounted his seven-catch, two-score outing, per Kevin Oestreicher of Ravens Wire:

The performance showcased everything great about Smith’s game. Namely, vertical speed, elusiveness after the catch and the type of nasty, physical edge that made him feared by defensive backs around the league.

As a 5’9″ target who began his career as a kick returner then put up elite numbers as a wideout in run-first offenses, Smith is the type of player the Hall of Fame was built to honor.

Boldin and Smith weren’t Ravens lifers like Lewis, Reed and Ogden. Instead, like safety Rod Woodson and tight end Shannon Sharpe, Smith and Boldin did enough during some of the Ravens’ best seasons to pad careers deserving of recognition from the Hall.

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