As told to Glenn Clark
Jermaine Lewis was a part of the Ravens' first draft class along with Ray Lewis in 1996. Jermaine Lewis played for the Ravens until 2001.
As a rookie, Ray came in, I don't know what he was doing, but he came in the first day and he had some Heinekens in his trunk for the defense or for the veterans or whatever -- first day of training camp. And he just won the team; he won leadership right there. He just kind of took over, I ain't gonna lie.
And I didn't know what he was doing then, but now that I'm older, I can process it. You rarely see a rookie come in and take over the team. That's the beginning of his legacy right there. We trained together early. His mentality was always to be the best. He watched a lot of tape, and he knows what the defense is doing. A lot of other people don't know that. He was a big film guy.
Early in my career, I didn't fumble a lot, but I did fumble like a couple of times my rookie season and maybe a couple times in my second year. But I remember like in two instances -- I don't remember the game -- but I fumbled, and the defense had to go back on the field. I felt bad because at that time, I hadn't made enough plays to be secure in my job. You could get cut if I fumbled. This is a rookie, and Ray was like, "Lew, I'm gonna get that back for you!"
Sure enough, he'd go out there -- he did it like twice in one year. I was just like, "Oh, thank god!" He's like the eraser, man. He would erase your mistake as a returner, because I can't fumble. I don't get the ball that much, so when I do, I try to make it electric. But yeah, he got those fumbles back for me, man. You never know what would've happened. You never know.
Once he got them back, he might have said "I told you." I don't know. I was so into my thoughts like, "Thank God. We got this ball back!" Because I was playing offense a little bit, too, so I got a chance to go back out there as well. But, oh man, he did it two times for me. You never know what could've happened. People, they see the last mistakes of the game. They're like "What cost us the game?" You don't want that on you.