No. 14: Ravens RB Ray Rice

Who would win the matchup of Mike Singletary and the Ravens' Ray Rice? MATCHUP GALLERY ESPN.com Illustration


ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine sought a list of the 20 current players who a 20-member Pro Football Hall of Fame panel and ESPN's John Clayton believe could excel in any era of the NFL.

Or, to put a finer point on it -- when Mike Ditka looks at today's player, whom does he want lining up next to him ... or across from him?

Which of today's players did our group of Hall of Famers deem really old school?

The playing days for our 20-member Hall of Fame panel spanned the '60s (Jim Brown) to the turn of the century (John Randle).

We'll present four players a day, culminating with our top four on Friday, Jan. 27.

Use the #NFLAnyEra Twitter hashtag to get involved in the conversation or just follow along at @ESPN or on our Facebook page.


Honorable mention and No. 20 | 19 | 18 | 17 | 16 | 15 | 14 | 13 | 12 | 11 | 10 | 9 | 8
7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1 | NFL Blog Network reaction



DARRELL GREEN: Ray Rice is tough, hard-nosed and durable. I think he does an exceptional job not only in running the ball but in blocking. He's not the biggest guy out there, but he's willing to block anyone. He reminds you of Brian Westbrook. He's one of these pint-sized guys who is really an absolute ball of dynamite, kind of like Brian Mitchell was when I played with the Redskins.


JOE NAMATH: The vigor it takes to play running back is remarkable, especially when you think about how the average career for an NFL running back is 2.5 years. Larry Csonka is kind of the perfect example of toughness at the running back position, and when I think about guys like that today, it's Ray Rice that comes to mind immediately. I marvel at him.


RAYFIELD WRIGHT: I could see Ray Rice playing in the 1970s, when I was in the league. You look at Rice run, and he is the combination of Tony Dorsett and guys like him from that era. His vision is unbelievable. He is super tough. He can get tough when he has to. He shows speed and quickness, and is able to adjust. Plus, he picks up blitzes well when he has to block.



In 2008, one week into his first NFL training camp, Rice was the Ravens' only healthy running back after four went down with injuries. It happened during coach John Harbaugh's first season, when he was establishing a physical, no-nonsense camp. The Ravens put on the pads every day, and Rice was getting tackled on every snap.

You know, I had the roughest training camp ever. I was the only running back at one point. I am thinking, "When is the relief coming?" They just kept saying, "Get up, next play."

It got to the point where the defense was cheering me on. There was a time when you stopped being sore. I was emotionally hurt. My feelings were hurt. You sit back and think about it. If this is what the NFL is about, I got to the point in training camp where I didn't know if this was for me. I really thought strongly about it. Obviously, I talked to Ray Lewis, talked to guys and talked to my high school coaches. Everything I've been through has set me up to where I am now.



His explosiveness has helped carry the Ravens into the playoffs year in and year out. His low-to-the-ground running style would be tough to stop in any era.

CLAYTON ON RICE'S HALL OF FAME CHANCES: Much too early to consider.

John Clayton, a recipient of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's McCann Award for distinguished reporting, is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Follow Clayton on Twitter @ClaytonESPN.



Honorable mention and No. 20 | 19 | 18 | 17 | 16 | 15 | 14 | 13 | 12 | 11 | 10 | 9 | 8
7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1 | NFL Blog Network reaction

Additional reporting by ESPN The Magazine's Morty Ain, Louise Cornetta, Amy Parlapiano and Alyssa Roenigk.