Lewis was drafted by the New York Giants in the first round (ninth overall) of the 1936 NFL Draft. After playing one year, Lewis left to coach at Ohio Wesleyan University but left a year later to join the Cleveland Rams as an assistant coach/player. He became the interim head coach mid season. This made him the youngest head coach in NFL history at the age of 27. He coached the team to a 4–4 record and stayed with the team as a player for the 1939 season.
Art Lewis during his tenure as West Virginia head coach
After serving in the United States Navy during World War II, Lewis became the head coach of Washington and Lee University. Here he found his talent as a recruiter but his overall record was 11–17. He coached one year as an assistant at Mississippi State University and then was appointed the head coach at West Virginia University. His first couple seasons were rather lackluster but the team turned around during the 1952 season going 7–2 and finishing second in conference play. The 1953 season was his greatest season at West Virginia. The team went 8–1 in the regular season, captured the Southern Conference title and started a three-year winning streak against arch-rival Penn State. The tenth ranked Mountaineers then journeyed to the Sugar Bowl to face eighth ranked Georgia Tech where they lost 42–19. Under Lewis, the Mountaineers continued to dominate the Southern Conference winning the conference title four more times. Much of his success as a coach was credited to his recruiting abilities. He was able to attract such players as Sam Huff, Chuck Howley, Joe Marconi and others. The 1958 and 1959 seasons saw a major drop off and Lewis resigned as head coach.
After leaving West Virginia, Lewis accepted a position with the Pittsburgh Steelers as a talent scout and stayed with them until his death. Lewis died of a heart attack June 13, 1962 at the age of 51. He is considered one of the greatest coaches in West Virginia history and was inducted into the West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 1966.