Rice wants to play whole career here, too

Rice wants to play whole career here, too
January 8, 2013, 9:45 pm
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Harbaugh talks about Ray Rice's fumbles

Ravens running back Ray Rice had to fight back tears last week when talking about Ray Lewis' imminent retirement. Rice, whose locker is next to Lewis', described himself as "one of his kids" and has frequently recalled how much the veteran Lewis mentored Rice early in Rice's career.

Rice on Wednesday described Lewis' home finale against the Colts as "a perfect day to send him out. I took a lot from that game – a lot from that moment. ... It was just so emotional."

Rice also said that he would love to emulate Lewis and play his entire career for the Ravens.

Rice, a native of New Rochelle, N.Y., who turned 26 last month, is in just his fifth NFL season. He would need to play until 2025 to match Lewis' run of 17 seasons, and the shelf-life of running backs is notoriously short. Rice isn't going anywhere anytime soon, though;  Rice signed a new five-year deal this past summer.

"He (Lewis) makes it real for all of us," Rice said. "He knows that one day the game is going to fade, and he asks all of you a real question when you hear his messages: What will your legacy be?"

Rice is already one of the most popular Ravens both for his on-field play and his off-field community efforts, and with Lewis' retirement, Rice figures to remain one of the faces of the franchise for years to come.

Other popular Ravens, though, have come and gone. Sometimes they are victims of the cruel calculus of the salary cap, sometimes they leave because another team dangles a bigger pile of free-agent cash.  So it's far too early to know whether a Lewis-type sendoff will one day be held for Rice, but if it were, it would be a legacy Rice would relish.

"“I would love to be in Baltimore forever," he said. "This place has become home for me."