Jamal Lewis was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens fifth overall in the 2000 NFL Draft. He played college football at Tennessee. After spending his first seven seasons with the Ravens, Lewis signed a free agent contract with the Cleveland Browns prior to the 2007 season and retired after the 2009 season.
Lewis is best known for his career as a Raven, where he helped the team win Super Bowl XXXV as a rookie. Lewis is also known for his outstanding 2003 season, where he rushed for 2,066 yards, which is third-most of all-time, behind Eric Dickerson and Adrian Peterson. That same year, Lewis also rushed for 295 yards in one game, which was the single-game record until Adrian Peterson rushed for 296 yards in 2007. Lewis was inducted into the Ravens’ Ring of Honor on September 27, 2012.
After the 2005 season, the Baltimore Ravens declined to place the franchise tag on Lewis, making him an unrestricted free agent after the end of the season. This move was seen by many as a formality in letting Lewis move to another team. Popular speculation blamed Lewis’ steadily declining performance since the 2003 season. Lewis had also voiced displeasure during the 2005 season over the team’s failure to sign him to a long term deal. Despite these events the Ravens re-signed Lewis on Monday, March 13, 2006 with a three-year deal, despite having signed former Denver Broncos running back Mike Anderson, who was widely thought to be Lewis’ replacement. On November 19, 2006, Lewis rushed for a season-high three touchdowns against the Atlanta Falcons. He ended the season rushing for 1,132 yards, and 9 touchdowns. On February 28, 2007, the Ravens announced that they released Lewis. However, general manager Ozzie Newsome pointed out that they hoped to re-sign him but that changed on March 7, 2007, when Lewis signed a contract with the Cleveland Browns.
After joining the Browns, Lewis became the team’s starting running back. Lewis had his first 1,300+ yard season since 2003 in his first season with the Browns, rushing for 1,304 yards and 9 touchdowns.
On November 8, 2008, The Plain Dealer reported that Lewis was dissatisfied with the performance of his teammates in the Browns’ recent loss to the Denver Broncos. Lewis stated, “This is the NFL, you can’t call it quits until the game is over.” Lewis went on to say “it looks to me like some people called it quits before that. Denver was down, but they didn’t call it quits. They kept their heads up and they finished. We didn’t do that two weeks in a row – at home.” Without naming names, Lewis said: “Some people need to check their egos at the door and find some heart to come out here and play hard. This is a man’s game. The way we went out there and played two weeks in a row, finishing the same kind of way, it’s not there. I think there are some men around here that need to check theirselves, straight up. That’s it.” On November 2, 2009, Lewis announced he would retire after the 2009 season. Late in the 2009 season, Lewis was placed on injured reserve, ending his season. On February 17, 2010, the Browns released Lewis.
Smallthoughts: Old School Tuesday salutes …Jamal Lewis
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