What our reporters and columnists are saying about Ray Lewis announcing his retirement today:
Jeff Zrebiec, reporter: The timing on Ray Lewis' announcement, to me, is overblown. After 17 mostly dominant seasons, he has earned the right to go out however he wants to go out. And if there is anybody that deserves the ovation and the adulation that Lewis will get the rest of the week and especially on Sunday, it is Lewis. Was Lewis' career is Baltimore spotless? No. Any summation of his career has to include his legal issues in Atlanta. His play had also dropped off the past couple of years. But no current NFL player is identified more as the face of their respective franchise than Ray Lewis is to the Ravens, and that won't change. As Ray Rice said today through tears, "Baltimore is Ray Lewis." And he should be celebrated for that.
Peter Schmuck, columnist: No sane person would deny that the Ray Lewis era has been all good for the Ravens and Baltimore, but we won't know until Sunday whether this was the right moment for him to announce his retirement. Will his final dance at M&T Stadium push the Ravens one step closer to the Super Bowl, or will it suck the emotional air out of the stadium? The only thing that's certain is that all eyes will be on Ray, because every play could be the last of his terrific career. Don't know how that actually plays in the team concept.
Aaron Wilson, Ravens reporter: An era of defensive excellence built by Ray Lewis is ending, a goodbye coming at the end of this season with the pending retirement of the legendary Ravens middle linebacker. A two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Lewis established a rich legacy to rival and perhaps surpass any other middle linebacker that played the game. He played longer than Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary and was arguably more of an all-around defender. Lewis was known for his sideline-to-sideline speed and tackling ability and intelligence to diagnose offensive schemes through countless hours of film study. He was also the emotional leader and face of the Ravens franchise ever since their arrival in Baltimore as one of their first-round draft picks along with Jonathan Ogden prior to their inaugural season. Now, Lewis walks away on his own terms, getting out of the game at an age where a step had been lost and he had undergone surgery to repair a torn triceps. Now, he tries to chase one more Vince Lombardi trophy while recovering from a major injury. Most players wouldn't have attempted to come back from that kind of ailment, but it meant a lot to Lewis to try to get back on the football field. It's obvious he knew it was getting to be that time for him to hang up his cleats, so it makes sense that he wanted to return for a postseason run and not end his career after getting hurt in October against the Dallas Cowboys. In five years, he'll become a first-ballot Hall of Fame selection on his way to enshrinement in Canton, Ohio. It was a strong, long run for Lewis, one of the more dynamic, emotional players to ever play in the NFL.
Matt Vensel, blogger: The timing of the announcement was mildly surprising, but that Ray Lewis plans to retire at season's end is not. It has been a great run for one of the greatest defenders in the history of football, and I'm sure he wanted to leave on a high note instead of dragging out the end of his career. His accomplishments speak for themselves, but based on the tears fought off by Ray Rice, the impact Lewis made on those close to him were just as significant. We'll see if the shadow that Lewis will cast on Sunday's game will be a source of motivation or distraction for his teammates.
Kevin Cowherd, columnist: Ray Lewis is the greatest middle linebacker of all time. And he made the right move for the Ravens in announcing his retirement Wednesday. No. 1, he's a shadow of his former dominant self, and who knows how effective he'd be having played only six games this season and coming back from a serious triceps injury? No. 2, it spared the Ravens a year-long distraction. If No. 52 had announced back in September that this was his last season, it would have been one long soap opera for the Ravens, with tributes for Ray in every city in which the Ravens played and Ravens players and coaches forced to answer what-will-life-be-after-Ray questions for months. No. 3, you can bet the Ravens will use his announcement as emotional fodder to get up for Saturday's game against the Indianapolis Colts, vowing not to let No. 52 go out on a bad note with a first-round playoff notes.
Ron Fritz, sports editor: Ray Lewis is walking away from the game on his terms, and that’s how it should be. He’s given 17 years to Baltimore and the Ravens and to not be able to play one more time in front of the home crowd would have been a shame. Can he inspire a long playoff run from the Ravens? Never say never when it comes to Ray Lewis.