We knew this would happen, we just didn’t expect it to happen now. Baltimore Ravens’ middle linebacker Ray Lewis announced that he will retire at the end of the season.
It is hard to believe that his storied, 17 year career as an NFL player is about to end, but the years of playing a rough and tumble sport have taken their toll on him and he is ready to start his next chapter and spend more time with his family.
The Ravens regular season ended Sunday with a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. This week they will host the Indianapolis Colts in the wild-card game. It will be Lewis’ last game at M&T Bank Stadium and the last time he will do the “Ray Ray” dance when he comes out of the tunnel.
In 1996 the Cleveland Browns’ former owner Art Modell moved the team to Baltimore where they became the Ravens. Lewis was Ravens’ second draft pick (26th overall) from the University of Miami. He is considered by many to be the greatest middle linebacker of all time.
Some of his accomplishments include two-time AFC Defensive Player of the Year, 12 Pro Bowl appearances and 10 All-Pro Selections.
Lewis suffered a triceps injury in the week six game against the Dallas Cowboys. He underwent surgery and was placed on the special injured reserve. He was eligible to return in late November and was added to the active roster in week 17. The team said that he would return to the field in the playoffs.
This is a tough pill for me to swallow. Lewis is my favorite Raven of all time. I only have one Ravens’ jersey and it has a 52 on it.
Before the announcement I was on the fence about going to the playoff game on Sunday, but as soon as I heard the news, I jumped on Stub Hub and snatched a ticket. I wouldn’t miss this game for the world.
Lewis will not only be remembered for what he did on the field but for his motivational speeches and charitable contributions. I’m thankful he played for my hometown team and I am fortunate to have followed him throughout his entire career.
While I hope Sunday isn’t the end of Lewis’ season, I wish him the best in his retirement. I know he wants to spend more time with his family, but I have a suspicion we haven’t seen the last of him, he would make an excellent NFL reporter…