Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis is retiring from the NFL after this season, telling his teammates on Wednesday that "this will be my last ride."
Lewis, 37, hasn't played since he suffered a triceps injury on Oct. 14, but he's expected to return Sunday when the Ravens play host to the Indianapolis Colts in an AFC wild-card game.
"I've ran my course. It's time for me to go create a different legacy," Lewis said.
His retirement would end a storied 17-year NFL career that likely will earn him a ticket to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was the Associated Press' NFL defensive player of the year twice, the MVP of Super Bowl XXXV, a first-team All-Pro seven times and a 13-time Pro Bowler.
Ravens general manager and executive vice president Ozzie Newsome said in a statement, "Ray Lewis will not only be remembered as one of the greatest to play his position, he will also be thought of as one of the greatest players in NFL history. And, he is one of the greatest without a doubt.
"He had the one quality all of the best have: He made all the players, coaches and people around him better. It has been a privilege and a joy to be with him throughout his career. We in the Ravens have been very fortunate to be around this great man and player."
Lewis said Wednesday afternoon in a statement to the media:
"I told my team that this would be my last ride. 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. 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. 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. 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.
"One of the hardest things in the world is to walk away from my teammates because that's my brotherhood. ... But the chapter is huge for me to now step into other areas of life.
"I may be gone now. But I ain't gone forever. 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."