(January 2, 2013 UPDATED) Baltimore Ravens star linebacker Ray Lewis told reporters during a team practice on Jan. 2 that he plans on ending his 17-year career following the end of the playoffs.
“This will be my last ride,” he said. “It’s time to create a new legacy.”
Lewis, 37, hasn’t played a game in more than two months after tearing his triceps during week 6 of the 2012 regular season. He’s expected to play for the first time on Sunday Jan. 6 when the Ravens host the Indianapolis Colts in a wild-card playoff game in Baltimore. It may end up being his last game played in Baltimore.
Ravens’ star running back Ray Rice told reporters he’s already sad to see him go.
“I just can’t picture Baltimore without him. I was one of his kids,” Rice said.
The news quickly became the buzz far beyond the sports world. “Ray Lewis is an outstanding football player who exhibits passion and leadership both on and off the field,” Gov. Martin O’Malley said in a statement..”His commitment to football has made him worthy of a place in the Hall of Fame, and his dedication to the City of Baltimore and incredible community spirit has made him a man of dignity, respect and character.
“We will always be grateful for his love of the people of Baltimore and fans everywhere. He has given football fans of all ages hope and inspired us all to reach beyond our dreams. Though we will miss him on the field, we wish him well in his future endeavors."
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake voiced optimism about the way Lewis will leave the game. “Ray Lewis plans to retire after the #Ravens win the Super Bowl – it will be a fitting ending to a stellar career,”the mayor tweeted.
Lewis’ 17- year career has been spent entirely in Baltimore, a rare accomplishment for star players during the NFL free agency era. During those years, he earned 13 Pro Bowl appearances, seven All-Pro first-team nominations, two Defensive MVP awards, helped guide the Ravens to nine playoff appearances and was named the MVP of the 2000 Super Bowl.
He has been argued as the greatest middle linebacker in NFL history.
Now, Lewis said he will use his extra free time with his kids.
“There’s a lot of things that I’ve always put on hold for the game,” he said. “It’s a new chapter.”