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Lewis: Taylor was taken from us way too early

Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis visited the NFL Network studios Monday to talk about the United Athletes Foundation and Shad Ireland, the first kidney dialysis patient to complete the Ironman triathlon.

When you think about Lewis, it's hard not to think about his place not only as one of the greatest linebackers in NFL history but also as one of the greatest University of Miami players.

So I took some time to ask him about the greatest Hurricanes ever.

"It's impossible to really say who the greatest is without talking about all of the different eras," Lewis said. "And even then, I can't do it."

So we compromised, I shot him my list of greatest Hurricanes ever, and he gave me his first reaction. My list would have included Lewis as No. 1, but in deference to him, I have omitted him and Ravens teammate Ed Reed -- you know, not to cause any friction.

Bonus - Ted Hendricks: Said Lewis, "His wisdom was everything. He just knew how to play the game."

And without further ado ...

6. Edgerrin James
James, who led the NFL in rushing his first two years in the league, is the Colts' all-time leading rusher and a member of the all-decade team for the 2000s. Said Lewis: "I never saw somebody run the ball with such an ability to shift and change direction. So I called him 'Easy.'"

5. Jim Kelly
Kelly led the Bills to four AFC championships and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He's the best of a strong group of Miami quarterbacks that included Bernie Kosar and Vinny Testaverde. Said Lewis: "He was resilient."

4. Warren Sapp
Sapp won the Lombardi and Outland trophies at Miami, and in the NFL, he was a seven-time Pro Bowl player and a member of the Buccaneers' lone Super Bowl championship team. Said Lewis: "The first time I saw him, I said that I have never seen anything like that."

3. Jerome Brown
Brown was a dominant defensive tackle, but he might be most well-known for staging a walkout with his Hurricanes teammates during a dinner with Penn State players before the 1987 Fiesta Bowl. Said Lewis: "He was the forefather before Sapp. He set the path in motion for Miami football. He was the trend-setter."

2. Michael Irvin
Irvin might be the poster boy for the flamboyant Miami player. He was a member of the Hurricanes' 1987 championship team and won three Super Bowls with the Cowboys. Lewis summed up Irvin in just one word: "Passion."

1. Sean Taylor
Said Lewis: "He broke all of the rules. It was amazing how good he was. He shouldn't have been able to do the things that he did. He had the size, speed and range. He was the complete package. We lost him way too early."

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