Shutdown Corner - NFL

In the decade that's passed since Ray Lewis(notes) was named MVP of Super Bowl XXXV, the Baltimore Ravens star linebacker said he had never worn the ring commemorating the title he and his teammates won on that January night in Tampa. Until Saturday.

Lewis took out the ring for the first time in 10 years in order to show it to his Ravens teammates before the team's wild-card game against the Kansas City Chiefs. It's now sitting by his bed, serving as a reminder of what he's accomplished in the past and as an inspiration to do it again now. 

The All-Pro linebacker has been talking to his team about playing in Dallas, the site of next month's Super Bowl, since the beginning of training camp. Now Baltimore, which will face division-rival Pittsburgh on Saturday night, is two games away. 

I bet Lewis' Ravens teammates were happy to see the linebacker pull out a new motivational trick out of his bag. As we've seen countless times in various mic'd up segments throughout the years, Ray-Ray recites a variation of the same inspirational speech before every game. (It's something like: "Tonight is about us. [pause] Tonight is about victory. [longer pause] They will know when we hit them! [repeat 3x] Together! [longest pause] Sixty minutes of football! Ravens on three.")

When you watch those clips you can always see someone in the huddle looking completely disinterested or wondering how much longer they're going to have to hold their hand in the middle of a group circle. At some point, I'm sure some guys tune him out. Lewis is the unquestioned leader of the team and I wouldn't want anyone else giving a pregame speech, but you can't treat a season opener in Cincinnati like you do a playoff game in Pittsburgh, you know?

There's no tuning out a Super Bowl ring, though. Lewis is the only link to the Ravens' last title team, so when he talks about watching that confetti drop, it merits attention. That's what you play for. Lewis finally brought the ring out. When he puts it back, he clearly wants another to go with it. 

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