Posted on January 2, 2013 at 9:57 PM
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis announced Wednesday that he will retire at the end of this season, closing one of the greatest careers in NFL history.
Lewis said, "It is time for me to create a new legacy" after 17 NFL seasons.
He intends to play for the first time since tearing his triceps two months ago when the Ravens host the Colts in Sunday's wild-card game, saying: "There is no reason for me to not play," according to The Baltimore Sun.
Sunday likely will be Lewis' final game in Baltimore even if the Ravens win because of their No. 4 seed entering the playoffs.
"I talked to my team today," Lewis said Wednesday. "I talked to them about life in general. And everything that starts has an end. For me, today, I told my team that this will be my last ride."
He returned to practice on Dec. 5, and for him to be eligible for the playoffs, the Ravens added him to the active roster later in the month.
Colts coach Chuck Pagano, Lewis' defensive coordinator last year, said, "I thought, shoot, the guy could play forever and would play forever. Great person, great man, great player, just an unbelievable human being -- what he's done for that organization, that city and for that matter, so many people. He's obviously a first-ballot Hall of Famer and will be sorely missed."
Lewis has gone to 12 Pro Bowls, been named first-team All-Pro seven times and been voted NFL Defensive Player of the Year twice. He led the Ravens in tackles in 14 of his 17 seasons, the exceptions being those years in which he missed significant time with injuries (2002, 2005, 2012).
According to ESPN Stats & Information, only four players in NFL history have been to more Pro Bowls than Lewis (Bruce Matthews, 14; Jerry Rice, 13; Reggie White, 13; Tony Gonzalez, 13).
"I never played the game for individual stats. I only played the game to make my team a better team," he said.
Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs, who is almost always upbeat, said of the announcement: "It was sad. It affected me, because for the past 10 years of my career, I've been sitting right next to the man and going to war on Sundays. It's going to one hard last ride, and we need to make it one to remember."