If you are a Baltimore Ravens fan or an NFL fan in general, then you have already heard the news, and if you haven't, you better have been on a 20 hour flight to Guam or something, because when Ray Lewis announces his retirement, that is a sad day for Baltimore and the NFL as a whole.
Yesterday, the first ballot Hall of Famer announced that he will retire when the season comes to an end for the Baltimore Ravens. Although it was not a surprising announcement, it was still somewhat shocking as the Ravens have not known football without Lewis. The Ravens have been in Baltimore for 17 years now, and low and behold Lewis is set to retire after 17 years of football. In his 17 seasons, Lewis went to 12 pro bowls, was named 1st team all pro seven times, was NFL Defensive Player of the Year two times, and was the MVP of Super Bowl XXXV, the Ravens lone Lombardi Trophy. Don't worry, we are not going to dive into Lewis' numbers, there will be plenty of time this offseason to do that, but today we reflect on what Ray Lewis did for football and the City of Baltimore.
As aforementioned, Lewis has been with the Ravens as long as the Ravens have existed and was the second ever draft pick by Baltimore (Ogden). It is undeniable that if you ask anyone to say one name when you hear "Baltimore Ravens," 97% of the time that answer will be Ray Lewis. The Ravens were able to escape the shadow of the Baltimore Colts and Johnny Unitas thanks to Lewis as he gave the Ravens an identity. Lewis gave pride to Ravens' fans, plain and simple, when you tell someone you are a Ravens fan, that conversation at some point will include a brief talk about Ray Lewis because he was and is the Baltimore Ravens.
There are not enough words in English vocabulary to describe what Ray Lewis meant to football and the Ravens. He is a man's man and a family man. He is walking away from the game because he made a promise to his son, that if he got a full ride scholarship he would be there to watch every game, and he is keeping that promise. There is something to be learned there, and is a perfect example of the kind of person Ray is, forget how good of a football player he is, and remember how great of a man he is. Lewis told his teammates that,
"This will be my last ride."
Undoubtedly, Ravens' players and Lewis are going to give it everything they have to let Ray lift the Lombardi Trophy one more time, but no matter the result, Baltimore, the NFL, and fans all over owe Lewis a debt of gratitude for what he has done, not only for the game or the Baltimore Ravens organization, but what he has done for everyone he has ever come across. It may be his last ride, but his journey will never be forgotten.
Thank you Ray!
Sunday at 1pm, barring a Baltimore and Cincinnati meeting in the AFC Championship, will be Ray's last game at M&T Bank Stadium.
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