Best leader Del Rio's been around? It's Ravens' Ray Lewis

Jack Del Rio has been around a lot of talented players. He teamed with Michael Irvin in Dallas, and he coached Peyton Manning in Denver and Ray Lewis in Baltimore. So who was the best leader? Easy, said Del Rio. It was Lewis.

(Ray Lewis photo courtesy of the Baltimore Ravens)
(Ray Lewis photo courtesy of the Baltimore Ravens)

(Photo courtesy of the Baltimore Ravens)

Talk of Fame Network

As a player, Oakland coach Jack Del Rio teamed with the Cowboys’ Michael Irvin. As an assistant coach, he was part of ballclubs that included Peyton Manning and Ray Lewis. So the obvious question: Of those three, who was the best leader?

Thinking it through, Del Rio never wavered in his response.

“They’re all incredibly passionate. They’re all very driven, hard working guys. (And) they’re all going to be in the Hall of Fame soon,” he said on the latest Talk of Fame broadcast. “(But) In my mind, Ray was the best.

“When Ray spoke in team meetings you could hear a pin drop. If there was ever a moment where our team was lagging, not playing hard, not competing hard … just maybe lacking a little fire … all you had to do was just mention it to Ray, and he would grab ahold of the whole team and just ignite that team.”

As linebackers coach in Baltimore, Del Rio oversaw Lewis from 1991-2001, a tour that included the first of Lewis’ two Super Bowl rings. He went to the Super Bowl with Manning, too, as defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos. But nobody, he said, could motivate teammates like Lewis.

“He’s the best I’ve been around,” he said. “I’ve been around some really, really talented guys and some really good players and really great leaders. But, in my opinion Ray Lewis is head and shoulders above them.”