Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis will retire following the team’s current postseason run.
Lewis, a 13-time Pro Bowler and three-time AFC Defensive Player of the year, made the retirement announcement Wednesday, telling teammates that “this will be my last ride.”
“I’ve ran my course. It’s time for me to go create a different legacy,” said Lewis, who has been sidelined with a torn right triceps since October 14. “It’s a new chapter that I’ve already planned out.”
Part of that new chapter, according to Lewis, will include spending more time with his children. One of Lewis’ boys, Ray Lewis III, is an upcoming freshman at the University of Miami. Ray Sr. said he plans on watching all of his son’s games.
”God is calling,” the 37-year-old Lewis said. ”My children have made the ultimate sacrifice for their father for 17 years. I don’t want to see them do that no more. I’ve done what I wanted to do in this business, and now it’s my turn to give them something back.”
Upon his retirement, Lewis, the MVP of the Ravens’ last Super Bowl in 2001, will have spent his entire 17-season career with Baltimore. During that time, he has put together an impressive stat-line which includes 41.5 sacks, 19 forced fumbles, and 31 interceptions.
In addition to his 13 Pro Bowl appearances, Ray has also been selected to the All-Pro First Team seven times and been named the NFL Alumni Linebacker of the Year twice.
“Obviously he’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer, we all know what he’s done on and off the football field,” said Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano. “Like everyone who’s had an opportunity to be around the guy, we’ll cherish that for the rest of our lives.”
Ray Lewis and the Ravens host the Indianapolis Colts in an AFC Wild Card game on Sunday. Lewis said of the matchup (potentially the last of his career):
“There is no reason for me not to be playing.”
ESPN’s Damien Woody discusses Ray Lewis’ plans to retire after the season in the video below: