Linebacker Ray Lewis announces retirement
Ray Lewis retiring from football has got to be one of the most bittersweet moments in sports that I can recall in a long time.
How do you say goodbye to someone you have watched leave their heart and soul on the field for 17 years?
17 YEARS??? At middle linebacker? Incredible.
Lewis was drafted 26th overall in 1996 by the Baltimore Ravens (the organization’s first ever draft pick) and has never played for any other team.
It should also be noted that Lewis has played longer than all 25 players drafted ahead of him, including Keyshawn Johnson (No. 1 overall) and Eddie George (No. 14).
He is a Super Bowl champion, Super Bowl MVP and has appeared in 13 Pro Bowls.
Wednesday was the day that many knew would eventually come, but no one wanted to see. Wednesday, Ray Lewis told his teammates and coaches, then the media, that after their playoff run, he would be leaving the game of football once and for all. But, he also made it clear that he did not return from his triceps injury for them to be eliminated after this weekend’s Wild Card game against the Indianapolis Colts.
I told my team that this would be my last ride,” Lewis said, startling listeners at a news conference after he had spent a few minutes answering routine questions about his injury. “And I told them I was just at so much peace in where I am with my decision, because of everything I’ve done in this league. I’ve done it. I’ve done it, man. There’s no accolade that I don’t have individually.
If you’re wondering what Ray might do when he is no longer wearing pads on Sundays, he made it clear that spending more time with his children is top priority. Ray Lewis III committed to the University of Miami (the elder’s alma mater) last spring and according to Lewis he promised his son that he would be at every game.
This alone ensures that Lewis will never be far from the game he loves.
Truthfully, Ray Lewis will have boundless opportunity awaiting him. He could join any NFL analysis crew he wants, any team’s front office, or he can take on a coaching gig, and he will certainly have his choice of speaking engagements.
Ray Lewis’ speeches are especially poignant and moving because he never shies away from sharing the lessons he learned from his infamous murder case (he was exonerated) that occurred 2000.
So, if you have never been motivated by Ray Lewis, here’s your chance…
Basically, his post career ticket is written and his induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame is guaranteed first ballot.