Retired NFL linebacker Ray Lewis is widely regarded as one of the best defensive players to ever play the game.

A first-ballot Hall of Famer, Lewis was a 13-time Pro Bowl selection, 10-time AP All-Pro, 2-time Super Bowl champion, Super Bowl MVP, 2-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and is a member of the NFL's 100th Anniversary All-Time Team.

Many things made Lewis an elite player, but when appearing on The Rich Eisen Show, Lewis shared a story about how Ashley Manning, wife of Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning, helped make him great.

Manning Family
Ashley Manning second from left (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
loading...

“My secret sauce was, I stayed up and played the game after 2000… after 1998, me and Peyton Manning was first at the Pro Bowl, old school Pro Bowl. And I never understand, I never understood, Peyton’s wife is SO cool. Oh my God, she’s amazing," Lewis told Eisen.

“And she’s like, ‘He (Peyton) studies you, all day every day.’ And I’m like, ‘Really? Wow.’ So I need to change my game!

“So I started studying him… more though. You know, quarterbacks, all they do is click. So I built an entire room in my house just so I can watch film. So I became this guy who wanted to know everything.”

According to Lewis, Ashley Manning's comment opened his mind up to intense film study of great quarterbacks such as her husband Peyton, or Tom Brady.

“When you actually get to plan those type of chess match games against Brady and Peyton, it’s the smallest things ever that will decide the wins and losses in that game," Lewis explained.

So Peyton Manning's wife unintentionally helped the toughest opponent her husband had to play.

The NFL's All-Time leader in tackles (Lewis) faced off against Manning three times in the postseason, with Manning winning two of the three.

Each time, the winner of that playoff matchup went on to win a Super Bowl that season.

Ray Lewis
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images
loading...

Would Lewis have become as strong a student in the film room had he not had a chance conversation with Ashley Manning at the '98 Pro Bowl?

25 Highest Paid NFL Players of All-Time

Maddenisms: The 25 Best John Madden Quotes

Every #1 Overall NFL Draft Pick of the 21st Century

Get our free mobile app