Ray Lewis Set to Retire at End of Ravens' Playoff Run

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJanuary 2, 2013

An era is coming to an end in Baltimore, as Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis told the team today that he will retire when the season ends. 

Here are Lewis' exact words, via the Ravens' official Twitter feed:

Ray Lewis told the team today "this will be my last ride."

Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) January 2, 2013

Per Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun, Lewis also told the team his thinking behind the decision and what he expects the immediate future to hold for the Ravens in the postseason:

Lewis said walking out for likely final time at home Sunday will be one of most glorious moments of his life."

— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiecsun) January 2, 2013

"I've ran my course.It's time for me to go create a different legacy."Lewis said.

— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiecsun) January 2, 2013

"wherever it ends it ends. But I didn't come back to be eliminated in first round." Lewis said.

— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiecsun) January 2, 2013

Zrebiec also had this quote from linebacker Terrell Suggs, who has been teammates with Lewis since being drafted by the Ravens in 2003:

Suggs said he was surprised."we all thought the great Ray Lewis was going to play forever."

— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiecsun) January 2, 2013

I should say Suggs said the greatest middle linebacker of all time.

— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiecsun) January 2, 2013

Running back Ray Rice said this upon hearing the news that Lewis will be retiring (via Ravens' official Twitter):

Ray Rice on Ray Lewis: "I can't picture Baltimore without him."

— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) January 2, 2013

Even as the years kept moving along and Lewis’ body began breaking down, it is still a shock to hear that the superstar linebacker will be walking away from the NFL.

He is arguably the greatest inside linebacker in NFL history and was voted the greatest player in Ravens history by Mike Duffy and Ryan Mink of BaltimoreRavens.com in a list published in June 2011. 

Lewis has been the face of the Ravens franchise since he was drafted in 1996. He was the MVP of Super Bowl XXV, and he played in 13 Pro Bowls during his career. He was also named to the All-Pro First Team seven times and won NFL Defensive Player of the Year two times. 

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The last two years have been difficult for Lewis. He has played in just 18 games since the start of 2011 due to injuries. He missed the last 10 games of this season with a torn triceps, but he will be back for the team in its playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.