Ravens' Ray Lewis Back Where He Belongs

Joe HinkleContributor IMarch 4, 2009

If you can't beat 'em, re-join 'em, I always say.

After a long couple of weeks of negotiations and staring contests, the Ravens have kept their reputation as financial geniuses and by doing so, maintained the figure that has made their franchise what it is today.

I, like most Ravens fans, believe that this dragged-out process was caused mostly by "Sugar Ray" paying more attention to his ego and close friends than the actual facts. It took one long week for the 10-time Pro Bowler to come to grips with the harsh reality that he is not valued as much as he once was.

Finally, Lewis has been put into perspective by the league, not by the Ravens.

As for the Ravens organization, this is a triumphant win and an open opportunity. During Lewis' time with the Ravens, he has called all the shots. 

We can all remember before "Sugar Ray" hit the market—it was Lewis and Company that got rid of Brian Billick, it was Lewis that threatened the Ravens to upgrade at the nose tackle position, and it was Lewis that stated it was players like him that lead a team, not coaches.

Now that Lewis has accepted his contract and his place on the Ravens' team, it is up to John Harbaugh to gel this team together. This is Harbaugh's chance to claim his respect as top dog if he wants to last in this franchise. 

For the rest of the team, Lewis brings, first and foremost, stability back, and offers some of the best leadership the NFL has to offer. The man lives and breathes football. If he left, it would have been an abrupt starting over period for the Ravens.

Now with Lewis here, I believe the Ravens are one draft away from making another run, rather than trying to believe Joe Flacco is the face of the franchise. As the three years go by in Lewis' contract, the Ravens can gradually replace players around him without losing their identity on defense.

As for the case of the fans v. Ray Lewis, it will be business as usual.

Yes, there will be sore feelings from this bump in the road, but Charm City will forgive him. Trust me, Ravens fans were hurt by the rumors flying outside of Baltimore, but now that Ray is signed, the confidence is that our defense will reemerge as one of the best in the NFL.

If that isn't something to gain a fan's heart back, nothing will.