Alfred Anderson | Staff Writer

On Jan. 2, 2013 in a room full of reporters and photographers, NFL Linebacker Ray Lewis took to the podium in what was seemingly just another press conference. Several weeks before, in a game against the Dallas Cowboys, Ray Lewis tore his triceps and was subsequently forced to miss significant action in order to heal. There were reports that he could return to the field during the regular season, even as early as December, however it was later announced that he wouldn’t return until possibly the 2012-2013 NFL Playoffs.

As Lewis stood at the podium, answering the questions of reporters who were all fixated on his healing arm; one specific reporter asked Lewis about the long term effects of the injury on his career, and after a collective breath, he emphatically replied:

“I talked to my team today and I talked to them about life…life in general. Everything that starts has an end, that’s just life and for me, today, I told my team that this will be my last ride. I just felt so much peace in where I am with my decision because of everything I’ve done in this league, I’ve done it.”

Lewis then went on to mention his children and the sacrifices they have had to make while watching their father play NFL football for the Baltimore Ravens for the past 17 years. He would then go on to proclaim that:

“…my children have made the ultimate sacrifice for their father, the ultimate. For 17 years and whether its jump on a plane, jump right back, go to school…I don’t want to see them do that no more. I’ve done what I wanted to do in this business, now it’s my turn.”

He then went on to discuss how he made this decision and to reflect on his long, illustrious career, while also declaring that he would be active for the Ravens during their game against the Indianapolis Colts that Sunday. Immediately following the press conference, sports news channels and social media networks were abuzz, all taken aback by the fact that one of the greatest players in NFL History was getting ready to hang up his cleats and call it quits.

Furthermore, in the midst of all the media attention, Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens also had a game to prepare for that weekend against the upstart Indianapolis Colts in what would be the last home game for Lewis at M & T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. Luckily, they would go on to win 24-9 and celebrate by having Ray Lewis perform his signature “squirrel dance” that he performs at the beginning of each game during pre-game introductions. They would then go on to one-up themselves by upsetting the heavily favored Denver Broncos and their all pro quarterback Peyton Manning 38-35 on January 12, 2013 in a double overtime game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver Colorado.

Without question, the ceiling is high for this year’s Baltimore Ravens, who after sputtering late in the regular season, limped into the playoffs as a team not picked by many to advance deep into the post season. However, with the return of their Super Bowl MVP (Super Bowl XXXV), 13-time pro-bowler, two-time Defensive Player of the Year and seven-time AP First Team All-Pro player Ray Lewis, the Ravens are playing their best football at the right time of the year. As they head into the AFC Championship game, against the Houston Texans or New England Patriots, one has to wonder if the Ravens can in fact circle the wagons with Ray Lewis at the helm and make one last run at a Vince Lombardi Trophy for their future hall of famer. Only time will tell.