The National Football League will be minus a great player. Wednesday Ray Lewis announced to his teammates that this would be his “last ride”. So, after this playoff run is over, his football career will be as well. To me Ray Lewis optimized what talking the talk and walking the walk meant.
Ray was the first pick (26th overall) of the new Baltimore Ravens franchise back in 1996. For those of you who do not know, or do not want to remember, the Ravens were the old Cleveland Browns, thanks to Owner Art Modell moving the team. Luckily, Cleveland would rebound when the NFL expanded again in 1999, bringing in the Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans.
This man has done it all. He was selected to 13 Pro-Bowls, named Defensive Player of the Year twice, and won MVP honors for his play in Super Bowl XXXV. I will say that he was a huge part of one of the greatest defenses of all-time. In fact, he was the ring-master. The season his defense put together in 2000 was the best I have ever seen. Without that defense, the Ravens never would have won a ring that year. They allowed 10 points or less in 11 of their 16 games (4 of those were shutouts), and allowed only 970 rushing yards; and NFL record for a 16 game season. Yet the numbers are only half of this story. He is a devout Christian and that comes through when he speaks. Ray Lewis is one of the best when it comes to motivating his team. His pregame speeches are legendary. Deion Sanders, a former teammate, in a phone interview on NFL Network says that this could be being used as a motivational tactic to get the Ravens to play better. It wouldn’t surprise him if he played again next year, depending on how well the Ravens fair in the playoffs.
So why is this man retiring? Well, Ray has not played since week 6 when he suffered a triceps injury. Plus he also made a promise. See, Ray’s dad never attended any of his son’s games until late in his career. Now, Ray’s son, Ray Lewis III, has received a scholarship to play running back at his alma-mater, The University of Miami. Or “The U”, as Ray and so many other NFL players refer to their school. Ray is not going to miss out on this.
Bottom Line: After 17 years, the last remaining player from the inaugural Baltimore Ravens season back in 1996 will exit stage left.