One of the greatest careers in NFL history is about to end, as Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said today he would retire after the team’s final playoff game.
“It’s time for me to create a new legacy,” said Lewis, who is returning on Sunday from a triceps injury he suffered in October. The Ravens host the Colts in a first-round playoff game.
“I talked to my team today. I talked to them about life in general. And everything that starts has an end,” Lewis said. “For me, I told my team that this will be my last ride.”
Lewis returned to practice on Dec. 5 and was added to the active roster last week.
“He had the one quality all of the best have: He made all the players, coaches and people around him better,” Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome. “It has been a privilege and a joy to be with him throughout his career. We in the Ravens have been very fortunate to be around this great man and player.”
Lewis has been selected to 12 Pro Bowls and has been a first-team All Pro inside linebacker seven times. He is a two-time NFL Defensive Player of t he Year, leading the Ravens in tackles in 14 of his 17 seasons. The only time he didn’t lead them in tackles was when he missed games due to injury in the 2002, 2005 and 2012 seasons.
“I never played the game for individual stats. I only played the game to make my team a better team,” said Lewis, who led the Ravens to their only Super Bowl title after the 2000 season. Baltimore beat the Giants 34-7 in Super Bowl XXXV.
Teammates were surprised by the announcement, even though Lewis is 37.
“It was sad. It affected me, because for the past 10 years of my career, I've been sitting right next to the man and going to war on Sundays,” linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “It’s going to be one hard last ride, and we need to make it one to remember.”
Lewis said he wants to spend more time with his two sons. While he was injured earlier this season, Lewis watched them play on the same high school football team in Florida, and he plans to watch Ray Lewis III play next season at the University of Miami, where Lewis was a star linebacker.
“I thought, shoot, the guy could play forever and would play forever,” said Colts coach Chuck Pagano, who was Lewis’ defensive coordinator last year in Baltimore. “Great person, great man, great player, just an unbelievable human being. What he's done for that organization, that city and for that matter, so many people. He's obviously a first-ballot Hall of Famer and will be sorely missed.”