Super Bowl media members at the Ravens hotel in New Orleans shortly after the team arrived on Monday afternoon.
Lewis was asked his thoughts about the “lasts” of his career this week. “I think honestly that I have already put it aside. I promise you that is the last thing on my mind: Is this the last? Is this the last? The most important thing for me is to be the leader that I am for my team, and really go out and try to win this football game. That is really the only thing on my mind right now.”
Lewis was a member of the 2000 Ravens team that won the Super Bowl under then coach Brian Billick. He was asked what advice he had for his teammates leading up to the big game on Sunday.
“You have to be real honest with them, and lay it out. What are we really here for? The bottom line is, we are here to win a game, and there are only two teams left. For us to be where we are right now, we have to finish what we started the whole year. For me, that was one thing when we came here in 2000, there were so many guys who were so dialed in and so focused. It’s the same thing I am trying to spread to this team. What is our focus? Why are we really here in New Orleans? I know it’s a lot of things going on, there are a lot of things you could be doing outside, but the bottom line is that we are here for a business trip.”
Since he is considered the dean of the defensive unit, he was asked what he thought the sense of his team was right now. “The thing I sense the most about our team is that we are so loose as a core, but it is so beautiful when we step on the practice field. Coach (Harbaugh) never has to dictate practice, we kind of dictate practice. He will tell us to slow down in walkthrough practice, and we will pick it back up ourselves. Anytime you have that type of chemistry, the level of wisdom, talent and leadership we have, it’s a real great thing to have on our team. I think that’s why our team is so focused right now.”
Lewis said a lot of his teammates have been trying ever since he announced this would be his last year to reconsider. A torn pectoral muscle he suffered earlier in the year may have played a role in his decision, though he points to raising his family as the biggest factor.
“I get it every day. The guys ask me, ‘Are you really going to walk away?’ I have so much to do, I really do. I have to go home and be a father to my kids; my community is definitely calling in many other ways. And I have run my course in the game. My ultimate was always to, with this core of men that I have, was to get back to a Super Bowl, and we are back. We’re here, and I always wanted to experience that with Ed (Reed), with a Terrell Suggs, with a Ray Rice, and with a Joe Flacco. I wanted to experience that with those guys, and now that I am here experiencing that with them, it’s awesome. But, the bottom line, like I told them, I’m here because I want them to feel what that confetti feels like. So, for me to feel that, listen, it’s real with me when I say, ‘I’m done,’ because coming back is a totally different thought process. I would rub a lot of people wrong, most importantly my kids. I don’t want to take them through that anymore.”
“I think the beautiful part of coming back (to the Super Bowl) now, is that my youngest baby is 10 years old, and my oldest son is 17. Now, I get all of my kids to be here, my mom will be here, my dad will be here, so I complete it now. Everything is complete now. My entire family will be here actually watching this game, outside of my grandmother, who is very ill. But, my entire family will be here. Anytime you can finish a career with your whole family right there by your side, I think that is the way you should always do it. There is no greater reward than the relationship I have with my father right now, and the things we went through when I was younger. For me and him to look at each other, I just need to hear his voice sometimes. I need to hear him tell me a joke, or whatever it is. For us to be together this week, it is going to be an awesome time.”
Ray Lewis is one of the most admired players in the NFL, and he deserves to go out on top. There is no doubt that because of him the heart of the larger percentage of NFL fans will be pulling for the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. Best of luck, Ray!