While a lot of running backs try to avoid contact, Jamal Lewis sought it out.
Now, the Ravens have sought out Lewis, their all-time leading rusher who retired after the 2009 season, to place him in the Ring of Honor at M&T Bank Stadium on Sept. 27.
The Ravens play the Cleveland Browns, where Lewis spent the final three seasons of his career, on NFL Network.
"The reason why we were able to win the Super Bowl in 2000 was because of Jamal Lewis," Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome said of the then-rookie who had 1,364 yards rushing that championship season before a major knee injury ruined their chances to repeat. "The reason we didn't win it in 2001 was because Jamal got hurt and we weren't able to replace him."
Lewis had the mentality of a head-hunter. That's why he hung out with defensive stalwarts such as linebacker Ray Lewis and safety Rod Woodson even though he was a running back.
"My dad always told me, 'Be the hitter.' That's what I always instilled in my work ethic and how I really ran the ball," Lewis said. "It was an intimidation factor also. I'm not a big talker. I like to lead by example and gain my respect by how I played the game on the field. I think I did that."
Lewis had 7,801 yards in Baltimore and is 21st on the NFL's all-time list with 10,607 total rushing yards. He had his best statistical season in 2003 when he ran for 2,066 yards and 14 touchdowns. That rushing total is second all-time for a single season.
Having to face one of the league's best defense every day in practice helped.
"I like to bring the same kind of passion and same kind of physicality to the field when we were on offense just to gain that respect," Lewis said. "I always felt that I was a defensive player playing on offense. I think that's why I always ended up hanging around linebackers. I wasn't the finesse type of guy."