The week leading up to the Super Bowl allows a lot of media access to a number of different NFL players, usually providing some interesting quotes for us to dissect. Perhaps no one is more sought after or quotable this week than Baltimore Ravens linebacker, Ray Lewis. And, with Lewis, the connection between he and Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis seems to always be a topic.
Both Lewis' (Marvin and Ray) reminisced on their relationship this week to the media and had some very positive thoughts on their time together. In speaking with the media (via Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com), the Bengals coach said:
"There are so many great stories," said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, who admitted during a quick stop down here this week the Ravens are his second favorite team. "When you build the thing from the ground up, you have several memories. We came from the dirt up."
By "came from the dirt, up", Marvin no doubt is referring to the fact that he was there at the inception of the Ravens franchise in 1996 through the Super Bowl season of 2000. As has seemingly been swept under the rug in the Ray Lewis love-fest this week, the subject of Ray's legal issues back in 2000 came up and was posed to Lewis.
Via Joe Reedy of The Cincinnati Enquirer, Marvin recalled that tumultuous time:
He handled it very well. It rose up again during that week and whenever we were on the road. He was able to handle it well and overcome it and played an outstanding game. We talked quite a bit about it. We talked the day he came from Atlanta to Baltimore. He faced it and its a great part of Ray Lewis that drove him further and further."
The Ravens linebacker echoed Marvin's sentiments calling their relationship one similar to a "father-son relationship" and that "he (Marvin Lewis) is one of the biggest reasons why his career is where it is today". Pretty big statements from one of the best players to ever play the position in the NFL.
Enter Marvin Lewis' newest "son", Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict. In his rookie year, Burfict surpassed most expectations that were heaped upon an undrafted rookie and is potentially headed to man the middle of the Bengals defense in 2013. Burfict's comments on Marvin Lewis were eerily similar to Ray Lewis' sentiments:
"It's funny. A lot of my teammates call me (Marvin's) son," Burfict said this week from Corona, Calf. "A lot of my teammates see it as well that he wants me to be great.
"It's kind of the same thing going on right now. I want to be as good as Ray Lewis, of course. I want to be better. That's kind of how Marvin has been taken in on coaching me. Little things done well stacked up on a bunch of things and you can be a great player. He takes a lot of pride in practice and game film and different things just to try and make me better."
The Bengals Swiss Army Knife of a coach, Hue Jackson, also has a special relationship with the Ravens future-Hall-of-Fame linebacker. Although he came under fire with Lewis in the odd "deer antler scandal", which allegedly claimed that Lewis took a banned substance from a man whom Jackson introduced to Lewis, Jackson says that they have a great relationship:
"It extends beyond the football field," Jackson said. "To me, Ray Lewis is every bit the football player and man I would think anyone would want. His passion, his energy, his thirst to win is greater than anybody I've seen."
Just how much does Ray mean to Marvin? The Bengals' head coach's feelings on Ray Lewis and the ending of his career after Sunday was made with one simple sentence: "It will bring tears to my eyes".