The Baltimore Ravens have been playing emotionally-charged football throughout these playoffs. Linebacker Ray Lewis is likely going to call it a career after this season, and surely, he almost seems too good to not have multiple Super Bowl rings to his credit.
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With Lewis, the Ravens were able to capture their franchise's only Lombardi Trophy more than a decade ago and now they're looking for No. 2 with Lewis still playing at the highest of levels among inside linebackers in the league today.
Ask any player, and if they can point to one teammate for whom they are playing and drawing inspiration from, it would be shocking if the answers weren't a unanimous chorus of "Ray Lewis!" He is the heart and soul of the team, even when he's having a bad game or when he's injured.
Obviously, Lewis was a big focus on Tuesday during Baltimore's Super Bowl Media Day festivities. Lewis was asked, once again, about him being considered a "legend" in the NFL. Lewis had a lot to say on the matter, saying that it all depends on how his peers view him and his impact in and off the field, to the sport and to the people associated with it.
"I have always told people that your greatest leaders are your greatest servants," Lewis said, "You are going to find people who lead, lead, lead, but more importantly, they serve more than anything."
That's always personified the way Lewis plays the game. He is a leader, but everything he does is for the team and in support of his teammates around him. He doesn't give a speech to fire himself up, and he doesn't offer criticism to make himself feel better. He does those things to elevate his teammates to the next level.
Lewis is the kind of player who believes you can always be better. He'll compliment you and congratulate you on a job well done, but he'll call you out the next time you slip up.
"My whole legacy from day one when I came in, was I always grabbed someone to try and take them to the next level of being a better man, being a better woman, being a better child, whatever it is," Lewis said. "At the end of the day, that is what your legacy wants to be, to leave a great name. Hopefully I did that."
Few would argue against Lewis there. He has that "legendary" moniker, from his definition to the definition of many others. Even if you take his definition out of it and you just look at the player he was on the field, it's hard to find a better description for him.
The man went to 13 Pro Bowls, was selected to the Associated Press All-Pro first team seven times and the second team three times. He was the MVP of Super Bowl XXXV and won the AP NFL Defensive Player of the year award twice, and the AFC Defensive Player of the Year award three times.
Lewis was also asked about his retirement and what he said to his teammates when he told them that he'd be retiring after the Super Bowl, win or lose.
"I just wanted to tell them before I told anybody else that this would be my last ride," said Lewis. "I wanted them to appreciate the ups and downs that go with it when I started with the Ravens. I tried to explain to them that we weren't always in the playoffs, so whoever has been here the last five years, those guys are kind of spoiled."
Lewis said that he wanted to share "what being a man to them was." He said that past teammates have come to him about that - asking him about being a man. It's pretty clear that Lewis is a very complex bond with all of his teammates and if playing high on emotion counts for anything positive in the Super Bowl, then the Ravens will be in a great place come game time on Sunday.