OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Ray Lewis sure doesn’t look like an aging linebacker on the brink of retirement.
With 30 tackles in his last two games, the Baltimore Ravens defensive leader appears as if he could play at a high level for several more years.
That’s not going to happen. In spite of his standout performance this month and the pleasure he’s derived from Baltimore’s run to the AFC championship game, Lewis remains adamant that he will retire after the Ravens complete their postseason journey.
“No, I can’t come back,” Lewis said Wednesday. “My kids are calling for Daddy. It’s a great reward to see the sacrifice my babies have made for me, and it’s time that I sacrificed for them.”
The 37-year-old Lewis announced on Jan. 2 that he would retire after Baltimore’s playoff run is completed. Since that time, he’s provided his teammates with inspiration in the locker room and magnificent play on the field.
After being sidelined for 12 weeks with a torn right triceps, Lewis reclaimed his customary position in the middle of the Baltimore defense two weeks ago. Wearing a cumbersome brace on his right arm, Lewis led the Ravens with 13 tackles in a 24-9 playoff win over Indianapolis.
As an encore, Lewis had a team-high 17 tackles last week in a 38-35 double-overtime victory over Denver.
“He’s a guy that still plays the game at a high level,” Ravens defensive end Arthur Jones said. “You would think he was 21, 22, watching him out there, flying around, making plays. Why not play hard for a guy like that? It makes you so (confident) on defense that you have a guy behind you that’s a stud, that’s going to make such a huge play and can make so many plays.”