The Ravens weren’t going to wait long to honor arguably the greatest player in team history.
In just the second home game since he retired, legendary linebacker Ray Lewis was enshrined in the Ravens’ Ring of Honor at halftime Sunday. Earlier this week, Lewis talked about becoming the eighth inductee.
On Sunday, he spoke about the emotions of being back in Baltimore at his former home stadium as an honoree rather than a player.
“The funny thing is - I kind of said this last week over the phone during the press conference - you kind of know what the journey looks like when you’re fighting through it, but it’s almost impossible to see what the journey looks like at the end of it,” he said. “The love that’s out there in that stadium and the love that this city has for me and the respect that these players have for me - it’s overwhelming. It’s humbling. It’s humbling because I only know what the path chose, and to see it now, to see it now, this is it. This is why you go through all those hard times.”
Lewis played 17 seasons for the Ravens, and for years was the unquestioned leader of one of the NFL’s top defenses. He marked his entries with his famous squirrel dance, but even though he was given the chance to walk out of the tunnel once more, he decided he had already done his last dance when in uniform.
The Ravens introduced Lewis before announcing the defensive starters, and wearing a suit, he waved to the crowd and worked the sideline rather than gyrate the way he once did as a player. He said it felt surreal to be back in front of the crowd.
“It’s good to be back home,” he said. “That’s always one thing I’ve said about me being here for 17 years, is that I got a chance to lay my head in one place. When you can have that, that’s the foundation of a legacy. So to be back where it all started from is probably one of the greatest gifts I could ever give myself.”
Does Lewis miss playing or did he feel like he should’ve been in uniform with the team still?
“I definitely don’t feel like I should have been with the team,” he said. “That’s one thing that I don’t discredit. I never discredit what I gave to the game. I gave everything I had, and now it’s my time. It’s my way to honor God by walking with who I am as a man and being completely happy that the game is done for me. So when I walked out there, I walked out there with a totally different perspective, because every other time I always walked out there for a battle. But this time, I walked out there as a man, a complete man. It feels good, it feels good to know I ran my race, and now I’m here.”