Q&A with Jamal Lewis

Editor's note: Jamal Lewis made his return to the football field Thursday night against the New York Jets in a 34-16 loss at Ravens Stadium, carrying the football four times for 24 yards. He withstood the contact and the weight of the Jets' defenders, adding one 13-yard scamper. Lewis still needs to drop some weight as he is just under 250 pounds, up from his playing weight as a rookie of 235 pounds. The roster generously lists him as 5-foot-11, 231 pounds.

The native of Atlanta, Ga., was drafted in the first round with the fifth overall pick by the Ravens in the 2000 NFL Draft. Lewis missed all of last season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on August 8, 2001 in Westminster.

In 2000, Lewis helped the Ravens win a Super Bowl title with a club-record 1,364 yards rushing. He added 338 yards and four touchdowns in the postseason. Almost all of his rushing yards came in the second half of the season, rushing for 927 in the latter portion of the regular season.

Lewis joined Tony Dorsett as the only rookies to run for 1,000 yards for the league champions. Lewis finished second to Denver Broncos running back Mike Anderson in voting for Offensive Rookie of the Year. Lewis caught 27 passes for 296 yards. He scored six touchdowns on the ground.

In college, Lewis finished third on the Volunteers' career rushing list with 2,677 yards and fourth on their all-purpose yardage list with 2,677 yards in three seasons. Lewis tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee as a sophomore. As a junior, Lewis rushed for 816 yards and seven touchdowns. As a freshman, he rambled for 1,364 yards and seven touchdowns.

Lewis has a foundation, donates bikes to a youth football team and gives money to help poor people in Baltimore. Here's a transcript of his interview:

Ravens Insider:  "When you were rated the top fullback prospect in the nation as a high school senior by Super Prep, which running back were you compared to most of the time?"

Lewis: "When I was growing up, people compared me a lot to Herschel Walker, Lawrence Phillips, guys like that, big backs. That's the kind of runner I was, a fast 225-pounder with power in high school."

Ravens Insider: "What are your plans for life after football?"

Lewis: "I'm working on some construction projects in the inner city. I'm trying to develop neighborhoods and improve them for families. That's a way I can give back to the community and help myself and my family financially."

Ravens Insider: "What do you tell young people when they ask you for advice?"

Lewis: "I tell them to never give up on your dreams. You can do whatever you want to do. You can accomplish anything in life. There's nothing you can't do. "You have to dream big and work hard. If you do that, good things will happen for you. I'm living proof of that."

Ravens Insider: "Do you consider yourself a prime example of perseverance with two surgically-repaired knees?"

Lewis: "Yes, I would say so. I've been through a lot and I'm still here. I'm still around. I haven't backed down or backed off from anything because of adversity. I haven't let anything stop me. I won't. I care too much and I work too hard."

Ravens Insider: "Is it hard for you not to think about what could have been last year if you hadn't gotten hurt?"

Lewis: "Not really. I think everything happens for a reason. I went down and now I have to concentrate on getting back and getting it done."

Ravens Insider: "How much did the negative publicity surrounding your four-game suspension last fall for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy affect you?"

Lewis: "It didn't. The publicity and what people said didn't bother me. It was just a different type of adversity I had to go through. I've been through a lot. "I'm not going to let something like that affect me. I learned from what happened and I've moved on. It's in my past."

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