Baltimore Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis created a buzz around the NHL by announcing he will retire when the Ravens' postseason run is done this year.
The two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year and former Super Bowl Most Valuable Player informed teammates, then the media of his decision Wednesday.
"I talked to my team today. I talked to them about life in general and everything that starts has an end," Lewis said in a press conference. "For me, today, I told my team that this will be my last ride."
Lewis said he wanted to spend more time with his children and that he was "at peace" with his decision because he's accomplished all he's wanted to in the game, individually.
"I've done it. I've done it, man," he said. "There's no accolade that I don't have individually."
He's coming off a torn right triceps sustained against the Dallas Cowboys that forced him to miss the past 10 games, but has been activated for the injured reserve-designated to return list and is preparing to play in Sunday's AFC wild-card playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts.
The pending retirement for the 17-year veteran regarded as one of the greatest linebackers in NFL history created a stir around the league.
"It will definitely be a blow to the league to lose another guy like Ray Lewis," Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson said. "He definitely inspired me, just the passion and how he's dedicated to his craft to be the best. That's definitely what makes him the best linebacker to ever play the game. He will never be forgotten. He will be missed always."
"Tremendous player, tremendous career," New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday after learning of Lewis' plans to end his career after the season. "He's had a great career, he's a great player."
At one point, it looked as though the accolades for Lewis on the football field would be gravely overshadowed by murder charges against him in 2000 related to a stabbing. Lewis, though, had the charges dropped as he eventually pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and testified against his former co-defendants.
With Lewis' retirement papers to be filed with the league during the offseason, the countdown starts toward his future enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Lewis is regarded as a lock to become a first-ballot selection in five years when he'll first become eligible for Hall voters to induct him into the Hall of Fame that's located in Canton, Ohio.
In terms of longevity, 13 Pro Bowl selections and the production of 2,643 tackles, 31 interceptions and 41 1/2 sacks, Lewis' production trumps the luminaries from past eras of football. Statistics for tackles and sacks weren't officially kept back then, though.
Lewis' career 50 takeaways rank second all-time among linebackers with only Hall of Fame linebacker Jack Ham with 53 ranking ahead of him.
Only six players, including Lewis, won more than one NFL Defensive Player of the Year award.
"You can't say football without Ray Lewis," said former University of Miami teammate Warren Sapp, an NFL Network analyst. "He provides a comfort that you can't outrun him, you're not going over the top of him, you're not going to go through him."