Fans not surprised by Ray's retirement announcement

Fans not surprised by Ray's retirement announcement
January 2, 2013, 5:00 pm
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Ravens react to Ray's announcement

Kim Lapinski drives a Ravens Hummer, made a room dedicated to the team in her home -- one that includes an 82-inch TV which is all the better to watch the games on. 

This is why it’s not surprising that she’s a big Ray Lewis fan. The linebacker’s announcement on Wednesday that this will be his final season didn’t shock Lapinski.

“I knew it was coming and had a feeling it was going to be at the end of this season,” said Lapinski, who works at Johns Hopkins Hospital. “What else does he have to accomplish? He’s accomplished everything on the football field. To give Baltimore another Super Bowl, that would be awesome. But if not, there’s always next year.”

Lewis confirmed to his teammates and the media Wednesday that 2012 will be his final season. He’s long been one of the most popular athletes in Baltimore sports history, ever since he joined the Ravens in the team’s first year in town in 1996.

He led the team to the Super Bowl title in 2000, playing on and anchoring what might have been the best defense of all time. His ferocious play at middle linebacker sparked the defense all season and made offenses not look forward to dealing with the Ravens.

But it made Baltimore fans look forward to watching their team.

“What an amazing career he’s had, and he has just meant everything to the franchise,” said Rich Pototsky, a Pikesville accountant. “Possibly the greatest middle linebacker and one of the greatest defensive players of all time. He has brought such great joy and passion to what he does for so long, I can’t fathom what it will mean to the team for him not to be out there every Sunday.”

Sean Asbury lives in Anne Arundel County and is the father of Syracuse wide receiver Alec Lemon, who played at Arundel High School. Asbury also said he’ll not forget the passion that Lewis brought to every game.

“He was clearly the most dominant linebacker of his era and has to be mentioned among the top players of his position of all time,” Asbury said. “His play on the field, his leadership of the defense and his team is what I’ll always remember him for.”

Lapinski met Lewis once and said that’s something she’ll always remember. Lewis was big with community activities, and she saw  him at an autograph signing at White Marsh. She stood in a line waiting for the linebacker and was impressed at how he stopped to talk to everyone there before going in to start signing.

“When you think of Ray, he is just a Baltimore icon,” she said. “I think he’ll be right up there with Johnny Unitas.”