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Ray Lewis enters Hall of Fame as 'greatest leader in team sports history'

Ray Lewis was a no-questions-asked, first-ballot Hall of Fame induction after an illustrious 17-year career. Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

When Ray Lewis' name came up at the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee meeting Saturday, there really wasn't much to say.

Scott Garceau, the Baltimore media representative, delivered his five-minute presentation highlighting Lewis' career. When it came to discussing Lewis' candidacy, there were no arguments. Actually, there was no discussion at all.

The only comment came from one voter who essentially wondered why there needed to be any presentation at all. Lewis was the headliner and the slam-dunk candidate of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2018.

Here are quotes compiled by the Ravens from executives, coaches and players who Lewis directly impacted:

Ozzie Newsome, general manager who drafted Lewis in 1996: "For 17 years, we could point to No. 52 and tell the other players: 'Follow his lead. Practice like Ray practices. Prepare like Ray prepares. Be a great teammate like him.' It was our privilege to have him as a Raven. We are all better for having him here. His play on game days speaks for itself. Even in that small group who have the honor of being a Hall of Famer, Ray stands out. When you talk about the great players of all time, no matter position, he is among the greatest of the great."

Brian Billick, Lewis' head coach from 1999 to 2007: "What the fans saw of Ray Lewis on Sundays is what we saw every day, every meeting, every workout, every practice -- that unabridged passion for the game and excellence. We congratulate him on what is truly a worthy Hall of Fame induction."

John Harbaugh, Lewis' head coach from 2008 to 2012: "Ray represented Ravens football perfectly. He established what it means to 'Play like a Raven,' which has become a standard we believe in and our fans understand. It was an honor to coach Ray on the field and to maintain our friendship off it. I'm wishing Ray and his family many blessings during his Hall of Fame journey, as I know he walks in faith and will always remember that we walk together as Super Bowl champions."

Steve Bisciotti, Ravens owner for 10 seasons of Lewis' career: "Obviously, there is nobody more deserving. He made people around him better, which is the greatest compliment that you can give anybody in football, and he clearly was that guy."

Shannon Sharpe, Hall of Fame tight end who was Lewis' teammate in 2000 and 2001: "Before we get to his play, Ray is the greatest leader in team sports history. No one is even close. His resume as a player speaks for itself, but I'll add this: He dominated in two eras of football. In the first half of his career, when the run game was the most prominent, he was a beast. Extraordinary.

"He singlehandedly shut down great backs like Jerome Bettis, Eddie George and Fred Taylor. When the passing game became the way teams regularly moved the ball, he was spectacular. Teams didn't run screens against him. Receivers became reluctant to come across his view, and his speed allowed him to take away shallow and deep parts of the middle of the field. I saw all of this as a teammate with him and playing against him. No inside linebacker in the history of the game has the resume of the man I call 'Suga.'"

Rod Woodson, Hall of Fame defensive back who was Lewis' teammate from 1998 to 2001: "What needs to be said about a guy who was, by far, the best leader I witnessed in my 17 years of play? Not only a great leader to the whole team, but a mentor to teammates and players on other teams -- and those playing other pro sports. His singular focus to be the best player and teammate he could be separates him from other Hall of Famers. So unselfish. So selfless.

"The passion we all saw was real. He's relentless. It is who he is. His play was off the charts, a virtual tackling machine -- and a playmaker. He caused fumbles, recovered fumbles, interceptions, tipped passes. He did it all for longer than anyone who played his spot in the middle. If possible, he got better with age. His attitude and effort remained the highest, but his knowledge increased with all his study. Even as a young player, he would call out the plays the offense was about to run. He could play so fast, and with such confidence, because he knew what was about to happen."

Ed Reed, Ravens safety who was Lewis' teammate from 2002 to 2012: "I believe my big brother is one of the greatest football players to ever put on a uniform. Everything he displayed about the game -- on the field and off the field -- by being a leader and a constant professional truly set a great example for those around him. Honestly, I think he could still play. Congratulations, big bro."

Mike Singletary, Hall of Fame linebacker who was Lewis' position coach in 2003 and 2004: "It was my privilege to spend time with Ray and be awed by his play and leadership. As a witness from the sideline in practices and in games as his linebackers coach, I saw everything about him. As a player, he was ferocious. His ability to make every play, and the way he did it with his speed and power, I’ll never forget that. He electrified his teammates in practice and games.

"His leadership was none like I’ve ever seen. His work was so thorough, his credibility allowed him to bring his teammates along with him to the highest levels. He took over games emotionally, creating intensity that was special and off the charts. I can't emphasize enough how his teammates followed him. He worked at his craft. Did he work harder than everybody else? I can't identify another like him. Hall of Famer? He's the best I've seen, and, if people thought I was good, I know that Ray was better."

Marvin Lewis, Lewis' defensive coordinator from 1996 to 2001: "Ray is the most driven, talented and smart player I have ever met. Each day he wanted to know what he could do to be the best and make the team better."

Mike Nolan, Lewis' defensive coordinator from 2002 to 2004: "You could argue that Ray is the greatest defensive player in history. I was very fortunate to coach Lawrence Taylor. Since he was an outside linebacker, offenses could run away from him. The same with a great lineman like Reggie White. You couldn't run away from Ray. He played in the middle of the field. He could literally stop inside running games, sweeps and screen passes by himself. Then you add his dedication to the game: the film study, the lifting, the passion, the leadership. I grew up in the game and never saw or heard about anyone who did what Ray did."