Here are some comments from today's announcement that Ray Lewis will retire at season's end:
“I talked to my team today; I talked to them about life, life in general, and everything that starts has an end. It’s just life. And for me, today I told my team that this would be my last ride. And I told them I was just at so much peace in where I am with my decision because of everything that I’ve done in this league. I’ve done it, I’ve done it, man. There’s no accolade that I don’t have individually. But, I’ve never played the game for individual stats. I’ve only played the game to make my team be a better team. And now, God is calling. God is calling in so many of the areas of life. And my children, my children have made the ultimate sacrifice for their father—the ultimate [sacrifice] for 17 years. Whether it was jumping on a plane, jump right back, go to school and … I don’t want to see them do that anymore. I’ve done what I wanted to do in this business, and now it is my turn. It’s my turn to give them back something. So, it’s either hold on to the game and keep playing and let my kids miss out on times that we can be sharing together … I always promised my son that if he got a full-ride scholarship, Daddy was going to be there. And I can’t miss that. I don’t know if I could sit in a meeting room and fight that war. One of the hardest things in the world is to walk away from my teammates, because that’s my brotherhood. The only thing I ever play for is to be right there [for my teammates], and to raise Ed [Reed] and be with Sizzle [Terrell Suggs] for so long and sit next to them … And we are so much on the same path. Does that part hurt? Absolutely. You can never rebuild those bonds. Those bonds are forever. But, the chapter is huge for me to now step into other areas of life. A good friend of my, Lady O, she told me that I may be gone now, but I’m not gone forever. I’m just going into another phase of life. And I think my fans, my city, they deserve it. They deserve that whenever this role stopped for me not just to walk away and just [say], ‘I’m done.’ I think we all get to enjoy what Sunday will feel like knowing that this will be the last time 52 plays in a uniform in Ravens stadium.”
Running Back Ray Rice
On Lewis' retirement and the extra motivation it gives the team for the playoffs:
“No added motivation for the playoffs. This is a day where you really don’t prepare for it. You come in, and it’s something that we talk about it. He’s never actually told me. He’s always hinted that one day he is going to close the chapter on this game. But today, I definitely didn’t prepare for it. Mentally, he has raised me over the last couple of years. My locker is right next to his, and I just can’t picture Baltimore without him. He has kids, but I was one of his kids. It’s like he’s passing the torch down saying, ‘I have to let you go.’ But I know he is always going to be there. It’s just one of those days where you just don’t prepare for these kinds of things. Emotions, everything, we could talk about all that. No added pressure, but we will give all we’ve got Sunday for Ray. We owe it to him. We owe it to the organization. He’s done it for 17 years. What he gave to this city, what he gave to his fans, what they’ve given back to him, it’s something that I got to witness—not only got to witness it, [but] I was right inside. These moments that he always talks about that will never be again, finally it’s real. Sunday will be Sunday, but this week will be a different kind of week, especially for me. I’m right there in the corner with him. I told him jokingly that I’m not speaking to him for a week. I’m a little upset at him."
Linebacker Terrell Suggs
On his thoughts on the announcement:
“It was sad. I’m not going to lie to you. 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 with the man. It definitely affected me a little bit. When he went up there [in the team meeting], I thought we were getting our ‘let’s go on a run to the playoffs’ speech. Not that. Come Sunday, it will be the last time, potentially, he and I will be at M&T together. Like I said, it was very sad, but now the emphasis is on getting the job done. It’s going to be one hard last ride, and we need to make it one to remember."
General Manager & Executive Vice President Ozzie Newsome
“Ray Lewis will not only be remembered as one of the greatest to play his position, he will also be thought of as one of the greatest players in NFL history. And, he is one of the greatest without a doubt.
“He had the one quality all of the best have: He made all the players, coaches and people around him better. It has been a privilege and a joy to be with him throughout his career. We in the Ravens have been very fortunate to be around this great man and player.”
Gov. Martin O'Malley
“Ray Lewis is an outstanding football player who exhibits passion and leadership both on and off the field. 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."
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