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mesaSteeler
09-30-2010, 10:23 PM
Veteran linebackers Farrior, Lewis two of a kind
http://www.timesonline.com/sports/sports_details/article/1501/2010/september/30/veteran-linebackers-farrior-lewis-two-of-a-kind.html
By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times

Thursday September 30, 2010 12:11 AM

PITTSBURGH — Their styles may be polar opposites, but Ray Lewis and James Farrior still share much in common.

They’re inside linebackers who can still make plays even at age 35.

They’re spiritual leaders and captains for two of the stingiest defenses in the National Football League.

And they love when their teams get together in one of the most intense rivalries in pro sports.

On Sunday, Lewis will lead the charge for the Baltimore Ravens (2-1) while Farrior will try to help the Pittsburgh Steelers improve to 4-0 for the first time since 1979.

“Just two old warriors,” said Farrior, a quiet, laid-back guy off the field but a terror on it.

“You have to give credit to guys who can go that long like James Farrior because we play a very, very physical position,” said Lewis, an all-star trash talker and one of the most intimidating players in league history. “They ask how you can keep coming back. I take that as a credit for the way he and me take care of ourselves.”

Unquestionably a future Hall of Fame inductee, Lewis, is in his 15th season with the Ravens. The former University of Miami star was a first-round draft pick in 1996 when the Ravens relocated from Cleveland. He’s been starting and starring for them ever since.

He’s played in 11 Pro Bowls. He’s one of six players to earn Defensive Player of the Year twice. He was named to the NFL All-Decade Team for the 2000s. He was MVP of Super Bowl XXXV.

“The greatest thing I bring is total leadership, just being who I am, going out there and getting my players lined up, making sure we are communicating and seeing everything,” Lewis said. “Getting that mentality a certain way, understanding that there is no ‘I.’ There’s only ‘We.’

“Everything just transcends into what the game is really formed upon, and that’s brotherhood. It’s just a strong brotherhood. And I am the big brother for this brotherhood.”

Farrior can’t match Lewis in terms of awards and postseason recognition but he’s still meant so much for the Steelers over the years.

A former star at Virginia, Farrior is in his 14th pro season. He was the New York Jets’ first-round pick in the 1997 draft and spent five years with them. But it wasn’t until Farrior came to Pittsburgh as an unrestricted free agent in 2002 that his career took off.
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Farrior earned Pro Bowl honors after the 2004 and ‘08 seasons, and he’s got rings from victories in Super Bowl XL and Super Bowl XLIII.

“Hats off to Ray and James because they’ve been doing it at a high level for so long,” said Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch, who’s also 35. “The Ravens have a great one on their side, and we have a great one on our side.”

“It’s two linebackers who have probably done it longer than any two guys I’m aware of at that level,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “Ray is a guy that we are very proud of. He’s very talented and he works very hard at it in all ways, physically, intellectually and he’s very passionate about football.

“You can put James (Farrior) in the same category.”

How long can Lewis and Farrior keep playing at a high level? Even they don’t know.

In March of 2009, Lewis signed a three-year contract that runs through the 2011 season.

“I don’t know. I don’t want to be rude saying that I am tired of answering that question, but I don’t know,” Lewis said. “I just want to keep playing football. As long as I am playing at a high level, nothing else matters. I don’t worry about anything else except trying to help my team week-to-week and trying to get back to the Super Bowl.”

Farrior feels the same. He signed a five-year contact in August of 2008 that locks him in through the 2012 season, and he hopes to honor it.

“I don’t feel old, and I still have the desire,” Farrior said. “So I’m going to keep doing this for as long as I can play at a high level. I’m sure Ray feels the same way.

“Ray and I are good buddies,” Farrior added. “I talk to him every now and then, although I don’t think we’ll talk this week. He’s getting ready just the way I am. He’ll have his troops ready. So will I.”