If you’re a fan of the Ravens, or just football in general, Sunday will be special for more than Baltimore’s current NFL team hosting Baltimore’s former NFL team in a wild-card playoff game.
Ray Lewis announced today that he will retire after the Ravens’ final game, saying “It is time for me to create a new legacy.” Sunday’s game against the Colts will be the first for Lewis since he tore his triceps two months ago – and could be his last in Baltimore.
The hard-hitting linebacker has been a 13-time Pro Bowl selection, seven-time All-Pro pick and twice was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year. But what he did on the field never could be measured in honors and statistics. Lewis is, quite simply, one of the few players in NFL history who altered the way his position is played – and the way opponents played in trying to deal with him.
Michael Robinson knows. In a Week 10 game against the Ravens at CenturyLink Field last season, the Seahawks’ Pro Bowl fullback spent the afternoon slamming into Lewis to help pave the way for Marshawn Lynch to gain 109 of the hardest-earned yards you’ll ever see on a career-high 32 carries in the Seahawks’ 22-17 upset victory.
“That was the best linebacker to ever touch the game,” Lynch said a few days later. “Having those kinds of thoughts in your mind, like, ‘Ah, you know what, that might not be a battle that I want to take’ – but Mike Rob just took it upon himself.”
Lynch then cracked a slight smile before added, “I don’t know what’s wrong with him. I was looking at it on film and a couple of times I was like, ‘You know what Mike Rob, I probably wouldn’t have done that.’ But he did, and he wasn’t turning it down.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of him, and how thankful I am for what he did.”
Robinson’s take? “It was an honor to play against a guy like that,” he said. To know that he’s probably the best defensive player to ever play the game, it was just an honor to be on the field with him.”
That pretty much says it all, except for this: Enjoy, and apprecaite, Lewis while he’s still playing, because few have played the game as well.