Ray Lewis, the recently-retired two-time Super Bowl champion with the Baltimore Ravens, waved the green flag as the honorary starter to begin the 2013 Daytona 500. The certain NFL Hall of Famer spoke to the media before the event at Daytona International Speedway.
Q: Ready to be the official starter?
Lewis: "I'm a little nervous. I actually had Brad (Keselowski) ? he texted me on the way in. He said the one rule is, don't drop the flag. So I guess I can't drop the flag. But I'm excited."
Q: You're here at the Daytona 500, as are rappers 50 Cent and T.I. What does that say about the NASCAR fan base?
Lewis: "The things that we actually indulge in are just overwhelming at times. We're just real art fans. It's not just football, just music. We like everything -- basketball, lacrosse, hockey, anything. Anything that really challenges a person's athletic side and mental capacity. So being here today is an awesome experience I think for all of us, because we get to see a totally different world than our world. Our world is different. You see these race cars, and it's like -- wow. To be able to control machinery like that -- I actually drive my car fast, but not as fast as they drive here."
Q: How did your relationship with Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski begin?
Lewis: "Honestly, with me and Brad, he got in contact with me a few months ago, and he's following my last ride. He came to a couple of my games, and I caught a glimpse of how he's always watching my videos and really inspired him in different things. So that's when me and him really started to have a conversation with each other. From there it just turned into a friendship."
Q: Do you and Keselowski stay in touch?
Lewis: "We texted each other with motivational things and I kind of send him a heads-up about what I'm doing, and he's kind of followed my ride all the way through. That's kind of the way the relationship has gone. On my way in, I was just telling him, 'Do what you do. Stay calm and have fun doing what you do.' So we just have conversations like that."
Q: Your son recently committed to play football at your alma mater, the University of Miami. Ready to enjoy being a dad in your retirement?
Lewis: "I'm retired and ready to enjoy life, and ready to tailgate and do all those things. So it's probably one of the most exciting things. Winning a Super Bowl was awesome, don't ever get me wrong. But watching my son walk into college in another month or so will probably be the most amazing thing I've probably ever done."
Q: You're used to being in the spotlight in the NFL. How does that compare to being at the Daytona 500?
Lewis: "In my world, I'm very comfortable because I kind of know my world. But raising the flag, I might be a little nervous. I don't really know. I might be a little nervous, so I will squeeze it very hard when I'm holding it. But honestly, it's going to be good time. I'm really here just to get these guys going and just really watch the respect of what they're going to do, and getting out there to everything they can to be crowned champion. Just to be a part of it, just to be around it, is an awesome experience."
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