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Ray Lewis (True) Rookie Cards

With their 2nd Pick in the 1st Round of the 1996 NFL Draft, the Baltimore Ravens selected Ray Lewis from the University of Miami. Ray Lewis has eight true rookie cards and four rookie parallel cards.

Ray Lewis a Rare Bird

Nicknamed “Sugar” played his entire 17-year career with the Baltimore Ravens. Some may say that he didn’t play for them. Instead, they’ll claim that he is the Baltimore Ravens.

But he’s not just the face of the franchise. Between 1996-2012 he was the Original Raven, the Team Captain, the General, the heart and soul of the team, and the City of Baltimore.

He played the position of middle linebacker and was the best middle linebacker of his era and arguably the best all-time.  He is a 13x Pro Bowler – which also includes the distinction of Lewis being one of those rare “birds” to have won this award in three different decades.

The Original Raven was impossible to block, he was a leader and one of the most charismatic, intimidating football players in NFL history.

The Intimidation Factor

When talking (or writing) about Ray Lewis the most memorable thing to me is his intimidation factor. I remember the first time I witnessed it, I became an instant fan.

He would come out of the tunnel and do a Motown shuffle with a kick and a couple of roars that sounded more like a raven crowing.

Also, while the opposing team was being announced he would pace back and forth and stare down each opponent that was brave enough to make eye contact.

There is endless testimony on the negative impact this had on the opposing team and the positive impact it had on his teammates.

But the icing on the cake for his intimidation factor is his reputation for giving hard hits. He had strength, athleticism, and speed. If you can picture a five-pound hammer hitting an anvil that was Ray Lewis – he was the hammer and the anvil.

His reputation caused many running backs to call in sick when facing the Baltimore Ravens.

Ray Lewis Shares His Motivation

Ray Lewis is not shy when it comes to giving all credit for his success to his faith in Jesus Christ. He is a strong advocate for the things of faith. He leads in prayer in the clubhouse and in the community.

However, his physical aggression was not motivated by sports but was a by-product of him seeking motivation to defend his mother from physical abuse, which he repeatedly witnessed as a young boy.

Today, he is a motivational speaker and encourages people to…

“Don’t quit. At the end of pain is success. Pain is temporary and on the other side of that pain is your promise.”

Career Stats & Accomplishments

According to Ray Lewis career stats are: Quarterback Sacks 41.5 | Tackles 2,055 | Pass Deflections 67 | Interceptions 31 | Forced Fumbles 19 | Touchdowns 3


  • 13x Pro Bowler
  • 7x All-Pro
  • 2x Super Bowl Champion
  • 2x NFL All-Pro Defensive Player of the Year (2000, 2003)
  • 1x NFL Super Bowl MVP (2000)
  • Pro Football Hall of Fame 1st Team All 2000’s
  • 2011 NFL Topp 10 (4th)
  • 2012 NFL Top 100 (20th)
  • NFL 100 All-Time Team

Ray Lewis True Rookie Cards:

1996 Bowman’s Best, #164 (RC)

This premium product depicts a 180 card set released in a single series. I love the card quality which gives us thicker card stock, and high gloss but I wish they would’ve chosen a different photo. It’s not horrible but definitely could’ve been better.

Lots going on with card back. Multiple color fonts, player bio, and commentary that gives resume, skills, and up-close sections which I really like. Again, I feel they could have used a better photo for the card back as well.

The set offers 2 parallels: Refractors 1:12 hobby packs or 1:20 packs inside retail packs. Atomic Refractors 1:48 hobby packs or 1:80 packs inside retail packs.

1996 Collector’s Choice, #20 (RC)

Collectors Choice was an Upper Deck product and it was the kid-friendly, easy-on-the-wallet product. This was the inaugural year for Collector’s Choice and if offered collectors a 375 card set.

This nicely designed card shows Ray Lewis in his college uniform. The card back design matches the front somewhat and gives us a good amount of commentary but fumbles the ball when it comes to a player bio. There are no parallels for this set.

1996 Fleer, #165 (RC)

1996 Fleer Football is a single series 200 card set. It was printed on very thin card board stock. It features a Ray Lewis rookie card in a practice uniform with no logos, not a collector favorite. However, it is still a true rookie card of a hall of famer. There are no parallels for this set.

1996 Pro Line Intense, #59 (RC)

Pro-Line Intense was a somewhat small set in comparison to all others. Only 100 cards make up the set and there is a total of 23 rookies scattered throughout.

It is a borderless photo of Lewis either laughing at something or yelling at someone. The team helmet is a nice touch at the lower left of the card with a multi-colored name and position on a navy blue ribbon.

I really appreciate it when the theme of a brand is captured in the design. Great job by Pro-Line.

The card back is also a borderless photo and if you look closely you can see the whites of his eyes, I definitely would not want to be on the receiving end of this tackle.

There is one parallel, Double Intensity that was inserted 1:5 packs.

1996 Pro Line Memorabilia, #59 (RC)

This one mimics the Pro-Line Intense set in every way. The set featured autographs and memorabilia cards as well.

As far as this Ray Lewis rookie card is concerned the only differences would be in a foil front and the card back is laid out differently and includes commentary. There are no parallels for this set.

1996 Score Board Lasers, #99 (RC)

This one is also small in size, only 100 cards make up the set and there is a total of 25 rookies scattered throughout. A plus to small sets is that they have a tendency to only give you the top-notch players in the NFL.

This one is printed on thicker 24-point card stock, which was uncommon in 1996, and has a foil-like finish. Action photo on the card front is outlined that looks more like a glow, I’m assuming that’s what they consider “laser.”

The card back gives us another action photo, it looks fuzzy but that is the actual design. The photo is offset and is surrounded by player name and bio at the top and stats at the bottom. There are no parallels.

1996 Skybox Impact Rookies, #6 (RC)

This full-action photo shows Ray Lewis going after someone like a freight train. The player’s name appears blurry and made me adjust my head thinking it was my glasses. The product brand at the lower-left really has some pop.

The card back is another photo of Lewis and it takes up the entire real estate. Player bio followed by his name in the center and commentary towards the bottom is a bit different but works with the overall design of the card back. There are no parallels in this set.

1996 Stadium Club, #351 (RC)

1996 Stadium Club is a 360 card set released in two series. Ray Lewis’s rookie card can be found in Series 2 packs. This one shows a nice action photo of Lewis who appears to be waiting for the snap or waiting for a play to unfold before he pounces.

The three-quarter border reveals a transparent portion of the border. The brand logo in red is placed at the upper left and really stands out. And the player’s name at the bottom is hard to read even in person.

Card back was well thought out too. Everything is well placed and centered nicely. Different color fonts make things stand out. And instead of player commentary, it gives us a Scouting Report that focuses on Lewis’ skills.

There is one parallel to speak of, Stadium Club Members Only which was sold in a complete set form by series. A Members-Only foil emblem is stamped on the card front.

If you like linebackers, check out the rookie cards of Brian Urlacher!

Happy Collecting Collectors,

Learn. Collect. Enjoy.