"I told them I just felt so much peace in where I am with my decision because of everything I’ve done in this league," Lewis said to the media on Wednesday regarding what he told his teammates. "I’ve done it, man. There’s no accolade that I don’t have individually but I’ve never played the game for individual stats. I’ve only played the game to make my team be a better team.
"Now, God is calling," Lewis said. "God is calling in so many other areas of life and my children have made the ultimate sacrifice for their father, the ultimate for 17 years. Whether it’s jump on the plane, jump right back, go to school, and I don’t want to see them do no more. I’ve done what I wanted to do in this business and now, it’s my turn to give them back something. It’s either hold onto the game or keep playing or let my kids miss out on times we could be sharing together. I promised my son if he got a full-ride scholarship, Daddy was going to be there. I can’t miss that. I don’t know if I could sit in a meeting room and fight with that war."
Lewis hasn't played since October because of a triceps injury. There's a chance he could play on Sunday, but Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has been evasive in questions about Lewis' status. Lewis said there wasn't a reason for him not to play.
Whether he plays or not, Lewis' legacy is safe. He has consistently been one of the league's most fearsome linebackers during his 17 seasons. He was named Defensive Player of the Year twice, went to the Pro Bowl 13 times, and he's a seven-time First-Team All-Pro. When the Ravens won Super Bowl XXXV, Lewis was the MVP. Selected in the first round of the 1996 NFL Draft, Lewis would retire with some amazing regular-season stats -- 1,573 solo tackles, 19 forced fumbles, 41.5 sacks, and 31 interceptions for 305 yards and three touchdowns.
"I may be gone now. But I ain’t gone forever," Lewis concluded today. "I’m just going in another phase of life. I think my fans, I think my city, they deserve it. They deserve that whenever this road stops, for me not just to walk away and be like, 'I'm done.' I think we all get to enjoy what Sunday will feel like knowing that this will be the last time 52 plays in a uniform in Ravens’ stadium.”
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