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Brian Billick: Ray Lewis is the greatest leader I’ve ever seen

Arizona Cardinals v Baltimore Ravens

BALTIMORE - OCTOBER 30: Ray Lewis #52 of the Baltimore Ravens is introduced before the game against the Arizona Cardinals at M&T Bank Stadium on October 30. 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Cardinals 30-27. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)

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Brian Billick was the head coach of the Ravens when they won Super Bowl XXXV, but Billick doesn’t take the credit for leading that team. Billick says that team’s leader was Ray Lewis.

Reflecting on Lewis’s announcement that he will retire after the playoffs, Billick said on Mike and Mike in the Morning that he has never seen a person who can lead a football team like Lewis can.

“He’s the greatest individual leader on a football team I’ve ever seen,” Billick said of Lewis.

Billick mentioned the November 26, 2000, game against the Browns as one that he’ll never forget: The Browns marched down the field on their opening possession and went 86 yards and scored a touchdown, which was a major disappointment for a great Baltimore defense that had already shut out four opponents that season. As the defense came to the sideline, Billick was about to gather them and address them, but Lewis took over the coaching.

“Ray looks at me and says, ‘Don’t say a thing -- I got it,’” Billick said. “So I make a hard left turn to the Gatorade and get out of the way. And so for the rest of the day -- keep in mind they had gone 86 yards to score -- they had 124 yards total offense for the day. That team was possessed, and Ray Lewis, it was his passion, his focus, his execution.”

Amazingly, the story is even better than Billick remembers -- the Browns only had 112 total yards that day, and after that opening touchdown the Ravens outscored the Browns 44-0 the rest of the way. The Ravens won all the rest of their games that season, up to and including the Super Bowl, when Lewis was the MVP.