For over a decade, Ray Lewis was the unquestioned leader of the Baltimore Ravens' defense, giving countless speeches that rallied his troops around him. They were fiery, and they came from the heart, but they were also ridiculous, even for his teammates.
"Oh, it's funny," Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco told USA Today Sports while talking about Lewis' passionate speeches. "His speeches come from the heart, but there's definitely times where I'm sitting there kind of chuckling to myself. It's all good. There's nobody that's more passionate about what he does than that guy."
"So you just sit back and take it all in, but there's times where he says some stuff and you're like, 'Man I don't know what that meant, but I like how he said it.'"
Yes, Ray Lewis' speeches were passionate and came with a lot of flare, but those speeches didn't make him the leader of the Ravens for such a long period of time. In fact, they were probably the least important facet of his leadership. Lewis' ability to play the game at a high level while always helping his teammates around him made him one of the best linebackers over the last ten years. He knew the game inside and out, and he knew his teammates and their abilities just as well.
Ray Lewis' speeches were great for broadcast value, but they were often over the top and probably never really influenced the outcome of a game. Ray Lewis' leadership, however, did influence game outcomes, and that's what made him one of the best players in the league.