Ray Lewis sent shockwaves through the world of sports when the Baltimore Ravens superstar linebacker announced Wednesday that he will be retiring at the end of this season. Lewis has played 17 NFL seasons, but remained one of the game’s best players.
The Ravens made the playoffs, winning the AFC North, and will take the field on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts in a wild card playoff game that could be the last Lewis ever plays.
No matter how the Ravens play or what the final score is in Sunday’s game, it will likely be the last game Lewis ever plays in Baltimore. The NFL playoffs give homefield advantage to teams with the highest playoff seed and the Ravens have the number 4 seed.
As for his reasons for retiring, Lewis said only that “it is time for me to create a new legacy.”
Sunday’s playoff game will be the first time Lewis has taken the field since tearing his triceps two months ago.
“I talked to my team today,” Lewis said Wednesday. “I talked to them about life in general. And everything that starts has an end. For me, today, I told my team that this will be my last ride.”
Colts coach Chuck Pagano, who was Lewis’ defensive coordinator last year with the Ravens, said, “I thought, shoot, the guy could play forever and would play forever. 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.”
Lewis has gone to 12 Pro Bowls and according to information obtained from ESPN Stats & Information, only four players in NFL history have been to more Pro Bowls than him (Bruce Matthews, 14; Jerry Rice, 13; Reggie White, 13; Tony Gonzalez, 13).