Three-and-a-half seasons. That's the average length of a career in the NFL. Thousands of players have come and gone since Ray Lewis made his NFL debut in 1996. Courtney Upshaw, the first player selected by the Ravens in the 2012 NFL draft, was seven years old when Ray Lewis played his first game! How has Lewis managed to play at a Pro Bowl level for 16 seasons? Let's take a look.
What really sets the Miami Hurricanes alum apart from his colleagues is the attention to detail in his everyday preparation. We'll get to Ray's famous workout routines in a minute, but during the season he can be found in the film room just as often as the gym. He spends numerous hours in the dark scrutinizing tape on that week's opponent. New additions to the Ravens locker room claim they have never seen a guy watch the amount of film that Ray does.
After the season, most NFL players take a couple months off to rest and recover. Not Ray Lewis. He takes a two week break, during which he still does a light workout almost everyday. I would love to know what his definition of "light" is, by the way. He's played 222 games in the NFL, and the key to his success is working as hard he did the very first time he stepped on the field.
What Ray Lewis might be most known around the league for is his workout routine. He exercises for between eight and 10 hours a day. Yes, you read that correctly. He's also old-school, not believing in using any high-tech training to get in shape. Instead, he relies on cardio, specifically running on the beach with a 45-pound weight vest. Eat your heart out, Hasselhoff.
After a toe injury forced him to miss four games in 2011, Lewis bought a hyperbaric chamber to increase oxygen flow. Want one? You'll have to shell out $16,000. Finally, he stated in an NFL.com interview (h/t Livestrong) that he typically sleeps for 10 hours per night, sometimes as long as 14 hours. Finally, something I can actually do!
They always say "you are what you eat," and if that's true, Ray Lewis is a well-oiled machine operated by Medieval Viking warriors. According to a USA Today article, he drinks a protein shake and eats two egg whites for breakfast, and the rest of his diet is fish and vegetables. He hasn't ate pork in over a decade and has eaten beef only twice during that time. Not to mention the estimated 50 vitamins and supplements he eats a day.
As one of my favorite sportswriters, Kevin Van Valkenburg, once said; "It's difficult, at this point in Ray Lewis' career, to separate the man from the mystique."
At 37 years old, he's still the heart and soul of the Baltimore Ravens franchise. He's a tremendous leader on and off the field, and his impact on the city of Baltimore is unlike any athlete before him. His passion for the game is apparent in all the steps he takes on a daily basis to extend his Hall of Fame career. Even fans of other teams tell me they get chills hearing Ray's pregame speeches.
While some NFL players take their God-given talents for granted, he squeezes every ounce of talent out of his body, and the fans truly appreciate that about him. The average player may last two to three years in the league, but it's obvious from his preparation that Ray Lewis is far from average.