Best in Baltimore football

November 20, 2009|By Mike Klingaman and Ken Murray | RAVENS INSIDER

No game is bigger for a Baltimore NFL fan than Colts vs. Ravens. With Sunday's game at M&T Bank Stadium, and the Colts holding a six-game winning streak in the series, we thought we'd look at the best players to grace Baltimore uniforms, either Colts or Ravens. Since the Ravens are still waiting for their first player who predominantly wore purple and black throughout his career to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it was much easier to come up with Colts. Begin the debate. We're sure we left somebody out.

1. John Unitas: The greatest quarterback to play the game. Father of the two-minute drill led the Colts to two NFL championships and defeated the New York Giants in 1958 for the title in what has been dubbed "The Greatest Game Ever Played."

2. Ray Lewis: The master of mayhem for 14 years in the middle of the Ravens' defense. A tackling machine in his prime, with the ability to change games by himself. Revered around the league and willing mentor to all who seek his advice.

3. Gino Marchetti: Captain of the two-time world champions, he was one of the most feared pass rushers in NFL history. Lightning quick, No. 89 was named the best defensive end of the NFL's first half-century.

4. Lenny Moore: Had unparalleled success as both flanker and running back, making All-NFL at both positions. "Spats" scored a touchdown in 18 straight games, an NFL record that stood for 40 years.

5. Raymond Berry: Unitas' favorite target, he set an NFL record for career receptions. One of football's all-time clutch receivers, he ran perfect routes and caught 12 passes in the 1958 title game.

6. Jim Parker: His crushing blocks launched Moore's runs and saved Unitas' skin. He made All-Pro eight straight times - four at guard and four at tackle - and started 139 consecutive games.

6 (tie). Jonathan Ogden: First draft pick of the Ravens' era, cornerstone of the offensive line as an 11-time Pro Bowl left tackle. Among the greatest players of all time at his position.

8 . John Mackey: An explosive receiver who could turn a short look-in pass into an 80-yard touchdown, he revolutionized the role of the lumbering tight end. His biggest catch was in the 1971 Super Bowl, a 75-yard TD in a 16-13 victory over Dallas.

9. Ed Reed: An improvisational wizard in the secondary with an uncanny ability to decipher plays at the snap based on his film study. The Ravens' all-time interception leader, the gifted safety has scored touchdowns off interceptions, punt returns, blocked punts and fumble returns.

10. Art Donovan: Anchored the Colts' storied defensive line of the 1950s for nine years. "On trap plays he has no equal," coach Weeb Ewbank said of No. 70, the first Baltimore player elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Each Friday until 2010, Baltimore Sun bloggers will present their top-10 lists in print and online. baltimoresun.com/10spot

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WHAT YOU SAID
"Don't forget Tom Matte and Mike Curtis."

Tom from Frederick

"(1) Johnny U - the absolute BEST

(2) Ray Lewis - best of the rest by far.

Great talent left with unbelievable memories & I don't want to slight anyone ... but no one even gets near 1 and 2."

Dennis

"Baltimore has a long rich football history. It is too bad the NFL did not see fit to allow Baltimore to keep our History and colors as the Colts like they did with Cleveland and the Browns.

John Unitas is without a doubt the greatest quarterback of all time. He was a coach on the field. He managed the game and called his own plays. He was tough as nails. This in an era when the quarterbacks were targets, not a protected species like they are today."

Mike C

"I can't believe nobody's mentioning Jamal Lewis. There's no way we don't win the [Super Bowl] without Jamal. And what about in '03 when he rushed for over 2,000 yards facing 8-9 men in the box every game? After that year, he went downhill quickly, but for a few years, he was our entire offense."

Steve

To share your choices for best Baltimore players in Baltimore football history, go to baltimoresun.com/ravensinsider.

A previous version of this article misstated the final score of the 1971 Super Bowl. The Baltimore Sun regrets the error.

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