09-30-2010, 01:26 AM
Veteran linebackers Farrior, Lewis two of a kind
By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times
http://www.timesonline.com/sports/sport ... -kind.html (http://www.timesonline.com/sports/sports_details/article/1501/2010/september/30/veteran-linebackers-farrior-lewis-two-of-a-kind.html)
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.
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.”
10-03-2010, 02:23 AM
Farrior, Lewis continue to ward off Father Time
By Scott Brown, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, October 3, 2010
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 02507.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_702507.html)
The moniker was not just a nod to the popularity of the sitcom "Happy Days" in the 1970s. It also poked fun at the protruding belly that James Farrior carried around early in life.
"Potsie," given to Farrior by his parents, stuck — and now ranks as one of the more ironic nicknames in sports given its origins.
Farrior will be one of two seemingly bionic men in the middle today at Heinz Field when the Steelers host the Ravens in the first of their two scheduled alley fights.
He and Ravens inside linebacker Ray Lewis have played nearly 30 NFL seasons between them, and their longevity is one of the storylines in a game that, as usual, is flush with them.
"Just two old warriors on two teams," Farrior said. "That's all."
It is anything but that as Farrior and Lewis are the unquestioned leaders of their respective (and ferocious) defenses.
Part of the reason for their exalted standing among teammates is the fact both have made about as many concessions to age as they have to opposing ballcarriers.
While anything but elderly when it comes to their play, there is no question that each qualifies as an elder stateman.
Farrior is in his 14th NFL season and 10th consecutive one as a starter. The inside linebacker has been around so long that he once played a game against his coach, Mike Tomlin, when the two were in college in the early 1990s.
Lewis' NFL career, meanwhile, is as old as the rivalry that Tomlin recently called the "best in the National Football League."
He has been a starter since 1996 when the Ravens heisted Lewis late in the first round of the NFL draft, and laid the foundation for a defense that led them to a Super Bowl title in 2000 and, a decade later, is still unrelenting.
"They are freaks of nature, not only in terms of God-given ability and talent, but endurance," Tomlin said of Farrior and Lewis. "They probably lead in different ways, but it probably fits their personalities."
Indeed, the voluble Lewis talks as fast as he plays and swagger is as big a part of his game as intimidation. Farrior is a more understated leader but no less respected by his teammates.
And, Farrior said, he is not exactly quiet when he is on the field.
"I've calmed down over the years, but I definitely have a mean streak," Farrior said. "I definitely got my share of talking in back in the day. Now, I think I have it out with the refs more than anyone else."
Their personalities are the one major difference between the players that have become friends over the years.
That friendship is based on a mutual respect for how each plays the game, as well as what they do before the whistle blows on Sundays.
Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin, acquired during an offseason trade with Cardinals, said the preparation Lewis puts in during game weeks is "unbelievable."
Lewis is probably just as committed during the offseason as Farrior, who trains at the Tom Shaw Performance Camp in Florida prior to training camp and credits those grueling workouts with helping him ward off the advances of age.
"You have to give credit to guys who can go that long like James Farrior because we play a very, very physical position," Lewis said. "They ask how you can keep coming back. I take that as a credit to the way he and me take care of ourselves."
If each has learned what it takes to make it through the rigors of an NFL season, their experience is invaluable for another reason.
It has allowed Farrior and Lewis to compensate for any speed that has been compromised by the sheer length of their careers and the countless collision in which each has been involved.
"They know the game and they're reacting better than they did six or seven years ago," Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler said. "They're probably not as fast but because they diagnose things quicker and anticipate things quicker, they look almost as fast as they were."
The laws of nature, immutable as they are, have to apply to Farrior and Lewis one of these days.
That is another of saying that the two can't play forever but neither appears to be contemplating retirement.
When asked about the R-word last week, Lewis said, "I don't want to be rude saying that I am tired of answering that question, but I don't know. As long as I am playing at a high level, nothing else matters."
"I understand why people ask me that," he said, "but when you have a love of the game and can still go out and produce at a high level you don't even think about stuff like that."
10-03-2010, 02:27 AM
On the Steelers: A Match-up for the ages
Ray Lewis and James Farrior never wore leather helmets or played on black-and-white TV. But that doesn't mean they started playing yesterday, either. Not even close. All of which makes their play after so many seasons that much more noteworthy.
Sunday, October 03, 2010
At a time when most players had already moved on to what Chuck Noll used to call their life's work, Jeff Van Note was 40 and still starting for the Atlanta Falcons, the team that drafted him 18 years earlier.
When he was 40, Bruce Matthews was a starter for the Tennessee Titans, the only franchise for whom he played for 19 years. In his career, which began when the Titans were known as the Houston Oilers, Matthews played in a record 14 consecutive Pro Bowls and never missed a game because of injury when he retired in 2001.
Playing at an age when most players have either retired or had their careers cut short by injury is nothing new in the National Football League.
George Blanda, who died last week at age 83, played until he was 48, though most of his later years with the Oakland Raiders were spent as a kicker. Five days ago, the New Orleans Saints re-signed kicker John Carney, who is 46, and could use him today against the Carolina Panthers.
But Van Note and Matthews were not exactly playing non-contact positions. Their careers were not extended beyond 30-something because they were kickers or punters, positions where age doesn't always seem to matter.
A RIVALRY RENEWED
Van Note was a center for the Falcons, a player who, in 1986, was the oldest in the NFL. Matthews was a guard/center who, at one time or another, played every position on the offensive line.
"You love competing, you love the competition with your own body to see what you can and cannot do," Van Note was saying the other day, 24 years after he retired, at age 41, in 1986. "Competing against others -- that's one of the real basics that, when people get in athletics, they learn. The competition, there's nothing like it."
And the passion.
Don't forget the passion. When it wanes, players use it as a sign that it is time to get out. It never did for Van Note.
"I enjoyed the game," said Van Note, a six-time Pro Bowler who straddled an era of centers that ranged from Jim Otto of the Raiders to Mike Webster of the Steelers. "I started when I was 10, I quit when I was 40. You spend 30 years at something, even if I was a lumberjack or a metal worker, you have a strong affinity for it. It becomes a big part of your life. You like working at it."
Just ask James Farrior.
And Ray Lewis.
'Freaks of nature'
They are not the oldest players in the league, not even in the top 30. But they are each 35 and well into double-digit tenure in their respective NFL careers.
And yet, when the Steelers (3-0) play the Baltimore Ravens (2-1) at 1 p.m. today at Heinz Field, Farrior and Lewis -- a pair of ageless linebackers -- remain the leaders of what are arguably the two finest defenses in the NFL.
"They are the big names in the defense," said linebacker Larry Foote, Farrior's friend and teammate since both joined the Steelers in 2002. "With their spirit of wanting to win and competing, they're at the top of the league. Since I've been in the league, I say those two are the best."
• Lewis & Farrior: A History Lesson
• A Veteran's Veteran
"They are freaks of nature, not only in terms of God-given ability and talent, but endurance and longevity," coach Mike Tomlin said. "They are special people. They probably lead in different ways, but it probably fits their personalities."
The Ravens lead the NFL in total defense, allowing an average of 244.3 yards per game, despite giving up 144 rushing yards last week to Cleveland's Peyton Hillis. The Steelers rank sixth in the league overall, but lead the NFL in fewest points (33), yards per play (4.2) and takeaways (10).
Of the two touchdowns they have surrendered in three games, one occurred in the final 58 seconds in Tennessee and the other with 1:54 remaining when the score was 38-6 in Tampa.
Coaches change. Teammates come and go. But Farrior and Lewis remain the same. And so does the quality of the defense.
"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, who, in his 15th season, is the NFL's longest tenured defensive player still playing with his original team. "They ask how you can keep coming back. I take that as a credit the way he and I take care of ourselves."
"It's definitely easier mentally because you've been there before, you know what to expect, you know what to do," said Farrior, who is in his 14th NFL season after signing with the Steelers as an unrestricted free agent in 2002, probably the team's best free-agent signing in history. "But physically, just keeping up with these young guys and keeping pace with them, is getting harder and harder every year."
But Farrior keeps doing it, even though there are those who want to say he is slowing down. Those cries grew louder last season when Ravens running back Ray Rice combined for 229 yards rushing and 81 yards receiving in two games against the Steelers.
But, in three games, Farrior (18 solo tackles) and inside partner Lawrence Timmons (25 solo) have been busy shutting down some of the league's top running backs, including Atlanta's Michael Turner (42 yards), Tennessee's Chris Johnson (34) and Tampa Bay's Cadillac Williams (13). The longest run among the trio has been 11 yards.
"It's two linebackers who have probably done it longer than any two guys have, that I am aware of, at that level," Ravens Coach John Harbaugh said. "Ray is a guy that we are very proud of. He is very talented and he works very hard at it in all ways, physically, intellectually. And he is very passionate about football.
"You can put James [Farrior] in the same category. Knowing the position so well, it doesn't take a lot for him to know what he is looking for, week to week, because he has been doing it for so long."
A case of durability and luck
Only one active player has more than 2,000 tackles in his career -- Lewis (2,368). Despite his age, he led the Ravens with 164 tackles in 2009 and is the team leader after three games with 22 (17 solo).
When he turned 30, Lewis missed the final 10 games of the 2005 season with a nasty injury in which his hamstring tore away from the bone, leading some to believe the career of the two-time NFL defensive player of the year was about to start declining. But, in the four years since, Lewis has missed only four games and been named to the Pro Bowl each season, bringing his total number of appearances to 11.
"When you still love the game and you take care of your body and you understand the business a certain way, I think playing for a long time starts to become, I don't want to say easy, because the game is always changing, but it becomes more defined on you understanding how to take care of yourself, how to feel good week in and week out, not wasting energy and time," Lewis said.
Longevity also requires a certain amount of luck, too.
Farrior has stayed largely injury-free with the Steelers, starting 81 consecutive games, including playoffs, since missing two games in the middle of the 2005 season. He had never had an injury that required surgery until this year when he had elbow surgery following the 2009 season. What's more, since he was the seventh overall player (first linebacker) selected in the 1997 draft, Farrior's only broken bone was a fractured thumb during the early part of his career with the New York Jets.
"You take it year by year," Farrior said. "As long as you still have it in your heart, you keep going. I've talked to older guys and retired players and they said they knew when it was their time [because] they felt like they couldn't go anymore, That's when they called it quits."
How long can it last?
Farrior signed a five-year, $18.25 million contract before the 2008 season that will keep him through 2012. Lewis is in the second year of a three-year deal (worth between $20 million and $25 million) that will expire after the 2011 season.
Neither player wants to think about when it will all end. Right now, they're too busy leading the defenses that will be on display today at Heinz Field.
"They're wonderful players," said Van Note, who does pre- and post-game radio commentary for the Falcons. "They learned their craft, they worked at their craft, and I'm sure they have great affection and affinity for the game. If you don't like the game and you're just it in for the money, it won't last. That's a very important thing."
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10276/10 ... z11H4kSPFU (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10276/1092346-66.stm#ixzz11H4kSPFU)
10-03-2010, 02:33 AM
Why do I have to read the article 3 times?
Does that increase your post cost?
LOL...Just busting balls...
10-03-2010, 02:48 AM
Why do I have to read the article 3 times?
Does that increase your post cost?
LOL...Just busting balls...
No my post cost the same as any ones :lol:
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