Wednesday, January 2, 2013
The Last Ride
"Everything that starts has an end. For me, today, I told my team that this will be my last ride."
The NFL Baltimore Ravens Linebacker, Ray Lewis, announced he plans on retiring at the end of the season today. After telling his teammates, coaches and organization, he held a press conference at the Raven's facilities to talk about his decision and why he made it. Here are some choice excerpts from that conference today...excerpts that will quickly become obvious why I think they make for a great blog posting in this fringe sector of teh interewebz.... you can see the video of the press conference here.
"Everything that starts has an end. It’s just life."
When Lewis suffered a triceps injury against the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 14, doctors told him it would be season-ending. That meant perhaps career-ending considering Lewis is 37 years old.
Lewis immediately called Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome.
“I’m not going out like this. I’m not walking out on my boys like that,” he told him.
So Lewis was put on the injured reserve – designated to return list. And from that point on, he underwent intense rehabilitation just to have a chance to step back on the field and play with his teammates again.
Lewis called it the craziest 12 weeks of training in his life.
“Pain was really the last thing that was on my mind,” he said. “I just thought about getting through it.”
It crystalized the importance of being a father first.
During his time at home rehabilitating, Lewis got a chance to watch his oldest son, Ray Lewis III, play football during his senior year at Lake Mary Prep in Florida, and his younger son go through his freshman year.
Lewis was there for the entire 11-1 season.
He would fly back from rehabilitation to meet his son every weekend.
For that reason, he called his injury “bittersweet.”
Had he not been injured, Lewis would have missed his son’s season.
“I could never say I would do it any differently because of what I had the opportunity to do, and that’s to see my babies go out,” Lewis said.
The decision to prioritize family hits home with Lewis, who didn’t have a father throughout his childhood. His father wasn’t there the day Lewis was born, and the linebacker spent much of his youth angry with him and trying to erase him from his life.
“Me being who I am and not having a father myself, that damaged me a lot,” Lewis said. “I didn’t want my kids to relive that.”
"My children have made the ultimate sacrifice for their father for 17 years. I don't want to see them do that no more. I've done what I wanted to do in this business, and now it's my turn to give them something back."
"I knew I couldn't split my time anymore. When God calls, he calls. And he's calling. More importantly, he calls me to be a father. It's OK to be Daddy. Yes, this chapter is closing, but the chapter that's opening is overwhelming. That's what excites me the most."
Lewis made a promise to Ray Lewis III that he would be there for him if he got a full scholarship to play football. Last March, Lewis III accepted a full ride to the University of Miami – just like his father – with his dad sitting in the room when he signed the papers.
Now Lewis intends to keep that promise.