Harbaugh lobbies for Ray Lewis to become 1st-ballot HOF inductee

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John David Mercer / Reuters

Ray Lewis is arguably the most important player in Baltimore Ravens history, and head coach John Harbaugh believes the Pro Football Hall of Fame should induct the 13-time Pro Bowler as soon as possible.

The Hall announced its 108 early nominees for the 2018 class Tuesday, and Lewis was one of 11 first-year eligible players. Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Ronde Barber, Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, and New England Patriots defensive lineman Richard Seymour join Lewis among the first-year nominees.

"Ray Lewis is a definitely first-ballot, unanimous selection to the Hall of Fame, without question," Harbaugh said to ESPN's Jamison Hensley on Wednesday. "There's no doubt about that."

Lewis won the second Super Bowl of his career under Harbaugh's tutelage in 2012, helping the Ravens to a 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII.

His off-field history, however, includes a misdemeanor charge of obstruction stemming from previous murder charges in connection to a January 2000 killing in Atlanta. Some believe that should hinder Lewis' candidacy, but Harbaugh dismissed that notion.

"If anybody votes against him, then there's an agenda," Harbaugh said.