Ray Lewis on retiring following this season
Sunday’s wild-card playoff game isn’t just win or go home for the Ravens.
It’s lose and the career of Ray Lewis immediately ends.
Lewis, who will return to the field against the Indianapolis Colts for the first time since tearing his triceps Oct. 14, announced he’s retiring after his 17th season.
“I talked to my team today,” said Lewis, his voice starting to crack before he caught everyone by surprise. “I talked to them about life. …. Everything that starts has to end with life. Today, I told my team that this would be my last ride.”
Lewis was activated from the injured list before the Ravens’ final regular season game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He was eligible to return as early as a Dec. 16 home game against the Denver Broncos.
But during his down time as he recovered from his injury, incurred when making a tackle in Week 6 against the Dallas Cowboys, gave him the perspective that it was time to go.
At a meeting, Lewis informed teammates about his decision.
"I just felt so much peace at where I am with my decision," Lewis said. "Because of everything that I've done in this league, I've done it. There's no accolade that I don't have individually. I never played the game for individual stats. I only played the game to make my team be a better team."
Lewis was determined to not have his season end, and he made sure Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome knew it. So they put him on injured reserve, but a new stipulation this season allows teams to activate one player from the IR. In the past, when a player was placed on the injured list his season was finished.
“As soon as I got injured I made a phone call to Ozzie and I said Ozzie we need to talk. I’m not going out like this. I’m not walking out on my boys like that,” Lewis said. “I feel good. I feel healthy. I feel great.”
Less than two weeks after surgery, he was riding his bike again. But the down time also gave Lewis a chance to spend more time with his teenage sons, both of whom play football. Ray Lewis III is going to the University of Miami, his father’s alma mater, on a scholarship.
Lewis realized early in his recovery that this would be his final season.
“I knew it honestly because I knew where I couldn’t divide (focus) anymore. I couldn’t split my time. When God calls, He calls. And He’s calling. He calls me to be a father,” Lewis said. “It’s OK to be daddy. It’s OK to say yes this chapter is closing, but the chapter that’s opening is overwhelming.”
The beginning of the end starts with the Colts.
“I don’t have any injuries that are really going to hamper me when I am done playing the game,” Lewis said. “I’ve played the game at a very, very high level and a very rough pace. … I make this last run with my team. … And wherever it ends, it ends. But I didn’t come back for it to end in the first round.”