Friendly words amidst all of the trash talk

Trash talking has become synonymous with the Ravens and Jets.

After all, the two franchises are eerily similar. Both have one World Championship, young quarterbacks who, while have shown flashes of brilliance in the postseason, are still trying to calm critics, and a defensive-led philosophy. When you add in former Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, now just feet away on the opposing sideline, who is always eager to do some chatting, the clashes between these two young teams has become quite the underrated rivalry.

Yet amidst the routine smack talk this week, the most recent coming from Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie, a pair of, ahem, “more seasoned” players, continued to offer advice to one another, a vocal friendship that started way back in 2003. As the Newark Star-Ledger’s Jenny Vrentas reports, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and Jets running back LaDanian Tomlinson have shared a mutual respect for each other ever since a 2003 meeting.

It was a game eight years ago, a 2003 matchup which saw the Ravens upend the Chargers, sending San Diego to its third consecutive loss. The Chargers’ feature back at the time, Tomlinson realized his team needed help and that his lockerroom needed the presence of a leader. Tomlinson was ready to assume that role, but needed the advice of a guy who encompassed the skills of leadership. Rather than dismiss his opponent, Lewis was quick to offer guidance, even handing Tomlinson his phone number and a message to ‘Call me. We need to talk.’

Eight years later the duo still speak with each other from time to time. Both have played together in countless Pro Bowls and both are destined for Canton when their careers are finished, but while Lewis can claim to be a Super Bowl champion, Tomlinson is still searching for that coveted title and this season could be his final shot to go out a winner.

Despite his slight decline, Tomlinson can still make opponents miss on the field, a trait Lewis knows first hand. And Sunday night when the Ravens and Jets square off at M&T Bank Stadium, it’ll be possibly the final opportunity for fans to witness one of the great matchups in recent memory.