I will concede that he is certainly one of the greatest who has ever played. He will be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer and will be remembered as a fierce competitor with a unique skill set that few before him had possessed. His leadership qualities are par none.
But is he the greatest of all-time?
Sorry to disappoint you, but no. He played his position as well as anyone in league history. I'll rank him up there with Dick Butkus and all the rest.
But when it comes to being the best defender ever, I have to go with the New York Giants' Hall-of-Fame LB Lawrence Taylor.
Taylor - like Lewis - was productive, celebrated, animated and feared. He did just about everything Lewis did and more. LT changed the way the game was played. That is the main reason why Taylor is the best ever. LT forced teams to change their entire offensive strategy and create new formations to protect passers.
Teams have gone to the draft for the past 30 years looking for the next LT. They're still looking. Chances are they will find the next Ray Lewis first.