Ray Lewis will be retiring at the end of this year’s playoffs. The iconic linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens made the announcement at a press conference earlier this afternoon, saying “it is time for me to create a new legacy” after 17 NFL seasons.
Before I extoll Lewis and his accomplishments, let me make the following statement. I am a huge Steelers fan, which means I have an inherit dislike toward the Ravens (and Cowboys and Browns). Every time I watched a Steelers-Ravens game, I always looked out for number 52 leading the Baltimore D. So I have every right to be jubilant that Lewis will no longer be playing as a Raven.
That said, I respected the hell out of Lewis.
I do not recall another NFL player (or a player in ANY sport for that matter) who lead not only a defense, but an ENTIRE TEAM the way Lewis did the last 17 seasons. I mean, Lewis just rolled into town and led the team seemingly since the day he was drafted. Who needs a defensive coaching staff when you have a guy like Lewis captaining your football team?
Plus, you have to marvel at Lewis’ impact off the field. He serves as a motivational speaker who has given pre-game speeches to college teams before big games, rivalry games and bowl games. He is very charitable and is always around to lend a helping hand and tried to make any fan smile. And he has served as a mentor to a lot of current – and former – NFL players.
And last – but not least – let’s examine Lewis’ stats…
- 13× Pro Bowl (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)
- 7× AP First Team All-Pro (1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2009)
- 3× AP Second Team All-Pro (1997, 1998, 2010)
- Super Bowl champion (XXXV)
- Super Bowl XXXV MVP
- 2× AP NFL Defensive Player of Year (2000, 2003)
While I believe that he is not THE greatest defensive player in NFL history (that would be Lawrence Taylor), Lewis is still an iconic linebacker who will be missed by the Ravens and the NFL.