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Lewis among top five defenders ever

Retiring Ravens linebacker will leave void in Baltimore and the league as a whole

Originally Published: January 2, 2013
By John Clayton | ESPN.com

The Baltimore Ravens are losing more than leadership after the season with the retirement of Ray Lewis.

They are losing one of the five best defensive players I have had the fortune to cover. As you might know, I started covering the NFL in 1972. Because of that, I was able to catch the end of Dick Butkus' career. He retired in 1973, and I marveled at how he roamed the field and made violent tackles.

Every time I watched Lewis, he reminded me of Butkus. Because Lewis ...

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