The last couple weeks, some people have started to ask questions about how much football Ray Lewis has left in him.
Lewis has played 16 NFL seasons and is now 36 years old, and as will happen as time goes on, he's lost a step or two. Lewis still is effective in the run game and has shown he's able to move from sideline-to-sideline, but recently, some have questioned whether he should still be an every-down linebacker.
Today, Lewis responded to those questions.
"Sixteen years (I've) been in this business. Do you know how many men I have seen come walk in and out of this door?" said Lewis, when asked if he's bothered by the talk about his play declining. "(I always) think about all the people that had that one dream to be here and never made it. For God to carry me through 16 years and still playing at the level that I am playing at ... You know what? Man, speaks what man speaks. God controls a whole another thought process."
Despite missing four games with a toe injury this season, Lewis still led the Ravens with 95 tackles. He also was named to his 13th Pro Bowl, which is partly why he says he's still happy with the level at which he's playing.
"If you ask my peers, why wouldn't I be?" Lewis said. "You go through a resume of all of the great ones, and you can always go back to when they had their downs, they had their ups, but they were able to overcome that and keep going."
Lewis said he's never had a conversation with any of his coaches about limiting his reps or working in as part of a rotation, except, he says, when he's been injured. Even then, Lewis admitted he fought the team's decision to hold him out (in a game this season against the Browns, for example), and only eventually called it a day when he felt he was in too much pain to continue playing.
That conversation about playing time might have to come sometime in the not-too-distant future, but apparently it hasn't happened yet.
Known for his comments about chasing after "that confetti" which falls after winning the Super Bowl, Lewis said he sees similarities between this current Ravens team and the one which hoisted the Lombardi Trophy back in January of 2001.
That's what Lewis says his mind is on right now, not his future. Any talks about his retirement, he claims, are premature.
"I guess only the people that write are the only people that can think about it," Lewis said. "I don't. I have a true obligation, first of all, to myself to play the game with nothing else on my mind. The second thing I have an obligation to are my teammates - just to give it everything I've got and don't listen to what nobody else says. Just do what you do.
"We have an opportunity. If we can block everything out that everybody wants to write about or think about, then we have a great chance to go on and do some special things with this team."