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Lewis enjoying a renaissance in Cleveland

Cleveland Browns RB Jamal Lewis, running against the Kansas City Chiefs.

It doesn’t seem that long ago when current Cleveland Browns running back Jamal Lewis was thrashing AFC North opponents back in Baltimore for the Ravens.  And there happens to be some irony not lost here:  the man who helped Ravens general manager grab Lewis in the first round in 2000 for the Ravens?  Current Browns general manager Phil Savage.

As a result of that pick, which was labeled by then-ESPN NFL analyst Trev Alberts “the worst pick in the first round”, Lewis rushed for 1,364 yards as a rookie and helped the Ravens beat the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.  But the following year would be unlucky for Lewis; in 2001, he would tear an anterior cruciate ligament and as a result, the Ravens would go 10-6 and lose a divisional-round playoff game to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Later on, Lewis would be suspended by the NFL for four games for violating the league;s substance-abuse policy.  In 2002, Lewis would rush for 1,327 yards and in 2003 exploded for a league-high 2,066 yards (a NFL-record 295 vs. the Cleveland Browns).  See the irony here?  Unfortunately, Lewis would relapse in 2004 when he was found guilty of using a cell phone back in 2000 to arrange a cocaine deal for a friend and was sentenced to 4 months in prison plus 2 more months in a halfway house.  In addition, the NFL would suspend him 2 games; yet he still managed to rush for 1,000+ yards that season.

In 2005, he rushed for only 906 yards and the Ravens went 6-10.  At that time, he felt he was like the team was turning against him.  Last season, ankle spurs bothered him yet Lewis ran for 1,132 yards; despite that according to Lewis, the Ravens had abandoned him and the running attack.  After the 2006 season, the Ravens released Lewis rather than pay him a $5 million bonus. The Browns would sing him to a one-year, $3.5 million, incentive-laden deal, which could rise to $5 million.

So as you can probably tell, Savage’s long memory served him well in obtaining Lewis this season.  And it appears that the Browns made the smart move:  to date, Lewis has rushed for 307 yards (102.3/game) and is on pace for 1,600+ yards this season.  Want some more irony?  The Browns’ next opponent is who else?  You got it – the Baltimore Ravens.  so this game could bring this Jamal Lewis-Baltimore-Cleveland episode full-circle.  It should be interesting to watch.  Expect Lewis to be extra-psyched up for this one.

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