Lewis: Playing on Monday night never gets old

Playing on "Monday Night Football" is nothing new to Ray Lewis. Over the course of his 16-year career, the Ravens linebacker has lined up on Monday night 13 times.

In those 13 games, Lewis has recorded 120 tackles. He's defended eight passes. He's grabbed one interception and forced one fumble. He's been a part of six Monday night wins and seven Monday night losses.

Does playing on Monday night ever get old? No way, Lewis says.

In fact, the 12-time Pro Bowler, who has experienced pretty much every high an NFL player can achieve, says that Monday nights are the "biggest stage" in football.

Hank Williams Jr. might not be around anymore, but that doesn't mean that Lewis isn't going to be ready for some football come three days from now when the Ravens take on the 1-5 Jaguars.

"It's no secret. Mondays (are) Mondays," Lewis said. "Like I said to these young guys, whatever opportunity you want to leave, whatever legacy you want to leave, these are the nights you leave it. Not that you don't play hard every other day, but these nights are special. So savor the moment, man, and have a great time doing it."

NFL players run out of the tunnel every weekend fired up and ready to play. The intensity level is always high regardless of who they're playing or what time the game is, and the stakes are always high, as well. Teams know that any game can cost them a shot at the playoffs, a home playoff game or a playoff bye.

So what makes Monday nights so special in a player's mind? What is it about playing on that one day that gets guys so amped up?

"It's the biggest stage for our business in the world," Lewis said. "Everybody is sitting home on that Monday night and everybody wants to see how good you're doing. Records are sometimes one thing, but when you get on Monday night, it's all about the individual. You know, how can you be great that night? It's where you stick out, where you stand out and where you play as a team and things like that.

"And that's what makes Monday night special is that everybody - even in the entire league - gets to sit home and watch that one game."

There's also the tradition aspect that comes into play. While Jaguars rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert might not be familiar with Howard Cosell ("No, I don't even know who that is," Gabbert told Jacksonville reporters yesterday. "That's probably before my time."), millions grew up watching "Monday Night Football" with Cosell and Frank Gifford and have been watching football on Monday nights for the last 30 years.

"It's tradition, man," head coach John Harbaugh said. "You know, it's 'Monday Night Football.' Probably half of you guys have got it on your phone app, right, the 'Monday Night Football' song? So we're excited about it. We're looking forward to it."

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