Friday, January 4, 2013

Ray Lewis' Last Ride

As many of you know I am a huge Baltimore Ravens fan. have been since they came to Baltimore in 1996. One guy who has been with them since the beginning is Ray Lewis. Probably the most famous Raven of them all, the team leader both physically and spiritually. He took no excuses made no excuses. pumped you up and made you play better while keeping your mind in the game. Keeping you aware that this was a team sport and you were part of a team. One person fails you all fail, even if that one person was not named Ray Lewis. If they lost a game because of one person, never called them out publically pushed that we failed as a team. He knew one play does not change everything. You should have converted on that third down in the first quarter, you should not have been called off-sides. You had to play perfect, one mistake did not take the game from them, all the missed opportunities and mistakes did that. Ray knew that and he preached that. He was your motivator, your enemy, your best friend, your teacher, your student. He learned and he processed the information to make him one of the most feared and one of the very best Linebackers of all time.

17 years is a long time and for the last 5 years or so he has not been the same Ray Lewis as he was earlier in his career, but that was on the field. His mind was still sharp, he was still your motivator and he was your General. The game is probably never going to see anything like it again. Early in his career he had his run-ins with the law and the situation in I believe Miami where he witnessed the murder of two guys committed by his so called friends put a big black mark on his record that do this day is still brought up in jokes and stories about Ray. But to me and probably most everyone else in Baltimore, that was a wake up call for Ray and from that point on he knew he had to change his ways, and he did. Even going so far to help counsel kids and give them a positive role model. He helped everybody and he was a better man for that.

He has the uncanny ability to motivate anyone. Going so far as to have colleges from all over the country, not just in Maryland ask him to come speak. And he brings his A game every time. If he wanted to he has a huge career ahead of him as a motivational speaker. Some of his speeches are really good and they are to kids who need a positive role model. I know I am repeating a lot but that is just who Ray is.

His will to play has ebbed, his body has failed him a number of times, and this last 9 weeks or so he has gotten a view of where his priorities should be, with his family who is growing up quickly and he is missing it, and he doesnt want that. Sure he's going to do some broadcasting, but it is nowhere near what it is like being a player. It's a hard life being a player, that's why the players are younger, they have the time to do their thing before they realize what is really important and that is family. Ray gets it. He may have left school early to go pro, but he is smart enough to realize someday he will not be able to play and he needs skills. Retiring at 37 is crazy since most people still have to work 30 years before they retire. Ray knows theres more out there. So he went back to school and got a degree. HE gets it. He's one of the smart ones and he is trying to spread his message to others.

Sunday's playoff game may very well be the last game he plays in Baltimore, though there is an outside chance we may host the Championship game if we win all our games and the Bengals win all of theirs. Realistically this is his last home game. Retiring while his team is on top is not a bad way to go. Godspeed Ray, you deserve your retiremement. Cant wait to see what you will do with the second part of your life.

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