Ray Lewis, the Baltimore Ravens’ seven-time National Football League All-Pro linebacker, announced that he will retire at the end of the postseason.
Lewis, 37, first told teammates today and then media members that he will return from injury to play Jan. 6 in a home playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts and that he will retire after the postseason.
“Everything that starts has an end,” Lewis said, according to the team’s website. “It’s just life, and for me, today I told my team that this will be my last ride.”
A 13-time Pro Bowl player over 17 NFL seasons, Lewis was named the Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year for the 2000 campaign, which ended with a Super Bowl win over the New York Giants. He also was named the championship game’s Most Valuable Player, and repeated as Defensive Player of the Year in 2003.
“I told them I just feel so much peace at where I am with my decision because of everything I’ve done in this league,” Lewis said. “I’ve done it, man.”
Lewis hasn’t played since completely tearing the triceps in his right arm while making a tackle in an Oct. 14 game against the Dallas Cowboys. He had a team-leading 57 total tackles and one sack prior to being sidelined.
Speaking in a media session today for the first time since the injury, Lewis said he’s where he should be physically.
“There is no reason for me not to be playing Sunday,” he said.
Baltimore went 10-6 this season to win the American Football Conference’s North Division. The Colts are 11-5.
Lewis has been an emotional leader for the Ravens and among the most popular figures in Baltimore since being selected 26th in the 1996 NFL draft out of the University of Miami. He was named an NFL All-Pro the following year and as recently as last season.
Lewis’s career was threatened in January 2000, when he was involved in a post-Super Bowl fight outside an Atlanta night club that resulted in two people being stabbed to death.
Lewis initially was charged with murder and aggravated assault. The charges were dropped the following June when Lewis pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction and agreed to testify against two of his former friends, who later were acquitted.
The NFL fined Lewis $250,000, the largest levied against a league player at that time, though he wasn’t suspended. The next season he led the Ravens to their only Super Bowl title.
For his career he has 1,573 tackles, 31 interceptions, 20 fumble recoveries and 41.5 sacks, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com.