Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens are going to play against the San Francisco 49ers in the Super “Brothers” Bowl. Unlike last year, the Ray Lewis led Ravens sent the Tom Brady led Patriots home.

Ray Lewis and Tom Brady are leaders, who for years have kept themselves and their teams on the trail heading for true success, they just do it in different ways.

Ray Lewis helped lead the Ravens to the 2013 AFC Championship title game victory over the New England Patriots by a score of 28-13. Lewis’ will and faith this season, emanated from the Ravens’ loss to the Patriots in the 2012 AFC championship title game last year. Lewis has kept his team focused during an injury prone sometimes unproductive season, that could have derailed most teams, through his strong in your face faith filled inspirational leadership.

When injured himself during the season Ray Lewis drove and pushed his defensive unit, by faith while inspiring quarterback Joe Placco and the Ravens’ offense to fight through all the adversities the Baltimore Ravens experienced during the season. On the back of Lewis’ determination and will to win the Ravens were able to make it back to the playoffs.

Then there was the announcement. Ray Lewis will play his last game in the NFL. Once the Ravens’ season is finished Ray Lewis will retire and will have played his last NFL football game.

Ray Lewis’ leadership was no stronger on display then the mindset he brought to his teammates when they positioned themselves for a show down with another great leader Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos. The Ravens were now one game out of the AFC title game. The Broncos were a huge favorite in this game, but Ray Lewis believed in a divine destiny for his team and he conveyed it by his actions and words as the Ravens’ leader on and off the football field. 

After the playoff lost against Tom Brady and the Patriots last year, Lewis made a declaration that turned prophetic when he announced to his team after the lost; “we will be back because God cannot be wrong.”

After defeating the Lewis led Baltimore Ravens, Tom Brady and the Patriots went on to play against the New York Giants in 2012’s Super Bowl XLVI. The Patriots lost to the NY Giants 21-17. Like Ray Lewis, Brady was motivated for next season after their Super Bowl loss.

Lewis and Brady stayed true to their words in 2013 after devastating loses in 2012’s AFC playoff championship title game and the 2012 Super Bowl respectively. Both Ray Lewis and Tom Brady’s leadership spearheaded their teams propelling them back for another try. Lewis took his comeback promise one step further than last year; “we are going to the Super Bowl baby!”

Each year whether Ray Lewis or Tom Brady’s team comes away with a NFL Super Bowl championship title or not, their teams are consistently competitive and have made the playoffs over the last ten years. During those ten years both the Ravens and the Patriots have made the playoffs nearly every year and combined have won four Super Bowl championships, three for the Patriots and one for the Ravens. Both Lewis and Brady led teams have made it to other Super Bowls they did not win after gallant efforts could not come away with a victory.  

Individually, both Lewis on the defensive side of the football and Brady on the offensive end of the football are perennial All Pro, Pro Bowlers. They will be 1st time Hall of Famers and discussed deep into the conversation of the All-Time greats of the National Football League and will be in the discussions of the best ever. Oddly enough, it is not just their statistics that makes them great, but how they lead and inspire others to want to be successful, that separate them from the pack. 

Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden coined the top tier of his Pyramid of Success with four characteristics that lead to the ultimate fulfillment of true success. Coach Wooden states that:  “Success is peace of mind that is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”

On the top wings of Wooden’s Pyramid is faith and patience with “Competitive Greatness” filling in the bottom of the top tier of Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success. John Wooden is quoted on what Competitive Greatness is from his book, A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court.

“What is competitive greatness? It’s being at your best when the best is needed. Competitors love that challenge. They know it offers the chance to produce their very finest.” Wooden. Ray Lewis and Tom Brady possess competitive greatness. Win or lose the game both players are examples to their teammates that competitive greatness is needed every game. Lewis and Brady display their competitive greatness in different ways.

Lewis immerses his teammates with an enthusiastic leadership style that meets them the minute they encounter Lewis whether at off-season training, practice or at games. Ray Lewis’ verbal, physical, mental and spiritual approach to the game of football and his teammates is passionate. His relentlessness and a strong faith in God, engulfs the atmosphere and mindset as he leads by example, words and deeds. Players, who play or have played for the Ravens, have bought into Ray Lewis’ leadership style, or if not, have had to move on.

Tom Brady’s leadership prowess and demeanor is from the old school Clint Eastwood’s spaghetti cowboy movie character Josie Wells and the vigilante movie character played by Charles Bronson. Like the Eastwood character Brady is smooth. He is unruffled by the fire of tough circumstances and piercingly calm under severe pressure. His competitive greatness is evident without a word being said.

Tom Brady’s presence appears to his teammates as confidence that is never too high or never too low, win or lose. Brady’s balanced, yet Navy Seal like precision, as he attacks the opponent, would make Charles Bronson’s vigilante character proud. Tom Brady’s leadership style is like today’s version of OO7, James Bond, on a football field. A Tom Brady led team displays the competitive greatness as they consistently execute their game plan while pursuing the lofty goal of winning the championship every year.

Despite a great college career at the University of Miami, Ray Lewis entered the NFL with a label that he was too small to be effective at his middle linebacker position in the pros. Tom Brady was drafted in the 6th round of the NFL draft a position generally indicating a possibility of being a backup or third tier NFL quarterback.

What the NFL, coaches, experts and media did not include in their evaluation was the intangibles Brady and Lewis possessed inside. Intangibles like, the desire to succeed, industriousness, (hard work), faith, patience and competitive greatness are key components of championship level leadership.

Besides having questions about their capabilities coming into the NFL, both Ray Lewis and Tom Brady have overcome their talent stigmas, major injuries, and adversities that would have defeated the average football player and young man.  

Lewis and Brady’s level of dedication, consistency and performance in the game of football have given them a platform of leadership. They have carried the banner of leadership well. 

While watching the AFC title game on television I saw a shot of Ray Lewis on the sidelines. It was near the end of the last game Ray Lewis would play against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. At that moment the game was on the line but it looked like the Ravens would pull the game out. A coach or someone connected with the team was standing next to Lewis. It looked like the person was happy because I assume he thought the game was won and was trying to get Lewis to agree and loosen up. Ray Lewis would have nothing to do with whatever this person was trying to convince him of and you could see the stern position Lewis held talking looking straight ahead while waving off the man and what he was saying.

That is vintage Ray Lewis. The game was not over in his mind and he was not conceding anything until a few minutes later a big play was when the Ravens sealed the deal.

It was late in the AFC title game against the Ravens, Brady needed to make a play. The ball was snapped to Brady who took his quick but precise steps straight back, it was a must pass play and the Ravens knew it so they rushed Brady strong from both sides. Brady nestled himself in the pocket as Ravens pass rushers converged on him. The rush defenders were so close they could almost reach out and grab him. Brady was not fazed at all nor did he flinch. He stood calm and relaxed and fired a missile down the middle to a receiver, the pass was incomplete. It was obvious that today was not Brady or the Patriots’ day.

The NFL will lose Ray Lewis after this upcoming Super Bowl, an ambassador for the game football and a great leader of men. Yet the NFL will gain another year of Tom Brady, pulling up his boot straps and leading the New England Patriots back to the promise land where game Bowls are Super.