Share This Page
NFL

Lewis more focused on 49ers than retirement

| Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, 7:10 p.m.

For weeks, no one could determine when The Ray Lewis Retirement Tour would draw to a close.

Since Lewis announced Jan. 2 his “last ride” in the NFL would coincide with the end of the Ravens' postseason run, there was the possibility that each game would be his last.

Now, after successful stops in Denver and New England, there is no longer any doubt: Win or lose, Lewis will perform for the final time Feb. 3, in New Orleans on the NFL's grandest stage.

It wouldn't be surprising if Lewis approached the Super Bowl with a feeling of finality, but the 37-year-old middle linebacker insisted Thursday that he's thinking only about helping the Ravens beat the 49ers.

“Honestly, outside of putting my head in the playbook and studying San Fran, I really haven't thought about anything else,” Lewis said.

“It's going to be a great day, period, no matter what happens. And that's kind of the way I've approached it.”

Now in his 17th season, Lewis is preparing for his second Super Bowl — the first in 12 years. The last time he played for the NFL championship, Lewis earned MVP honors in Baltimore's 34-7 win over the New York Giants.

After waiting all this time to get back, Lewis has no intention of merely settling for being part of the big game.

“The real prize is actually going and winning the Super Bowl,” he said. “It's great to get there, don't get me wrong, but to win it is something special.”

San Francisco inside linebacker Patrick Willis, who wears No. 52, has nothing but admiration for Baltimore's No. 52.

“I'm just a big fan of him, period,” Willis said. “I've always been a big fan of those who play with passion. ... As a fellow linebacker, being at the Pro Bowl and being able to be coached by the same coach (Mike Nolan) at one point in time in our careers, we've become friends.”

Lewis has been with the Ravens since 1996, and it wasn't long after his arrival that he became the captain of the defense.

As his career went on, he lost a step but made up for it with tireless film study and sharp instincts.

After his rookie year, the only time Lewis didn't get a Pro Bowl invitation were those seasons when he was beset by injury — 2002, 2005 and 2012.

Last year, he received his 13th Pro Bowl nod despite missing four games with a foot injury. This season, after tearing his right triceps Oct. 14, there was a strong possibility he wouldn't be back.

At first, the Ravens believed he was done for the year. But Lewis vowed to return, and his teammates were determined to make it happen.

“We knew we wanted to make the playoffs in order for Ray to have a chance to come back,” safety Ed Reed said.

Since his return, Lewis has 44 tackles in three games. He isn't limping into retirement; rather, he's headed out with a flourish.

“He's played really well. He's played just like he's always played,” coach John Harbaugh said.

Lewis attributes his involuntary 10-game absence as the reason behind his resurgence on the field.

“For me right now, I feel fresh,” he said. “My mind is fresh, my body is fresh and I'm just excited to really be able to end the thing up the right way.”

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.