--- Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports says that Lewis doesn’t just symbolize the Ravens, but the NFL as well.
“Hero? Villain? A man of great talent who was nonetheless filled with faults? Yes, Lewis is all those things. So after Lewis revealed that this would be his final season whenever the Ravens' playoff run ends, he left the football world to consider a legacy with more extremes than a summit of Mount Everest.
“And more magnetic than the polar ice caps.
“Lewis is a star who transcended his team. He's symbolized the Ravens, first and foremost. But he also symbolized the game, from its violent nature to its parable about overcoming adversity. When fellow players, be it Ravens or Bengals or whomever, were going through trying times, Lewis was always just a phone call away.”
--- Mike Freeman of CBS Sports says Lewis revolutionized the middle linebacker position with his speed.
“As we reflect on his career, one he says will end after this season, it wasn't work ethic that made Lewis the greatest middle linebacker of all time. It was speed. It was devastating, offense-wrecking, sideline-to-sideline speed that propels him past Dick Butkus as the GOAT at MLB.
“Butkus was a wrecking ball. Lewis was a projectile. Lewis, in many ways, defined the Second Age of Football. The first age, when Butkus dominated, was more about power. The second age, the one we're in now, is all about speed.
“Speed doesn't kill as much as it maims. Lewis was so fast that at his height, offenses could barely run a ground game, especially to the outside. He was too fast.
“Lewis revolutionized the middle linebacker spot. It's fine to talk about others like Butkus or Jack Lambert or Mike Singletary. All great. No disrespect. None, though, had the longevity of Lewis, and, more importantly, none had the speed.”
--- Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com says that Lewis is the greatest defender to ever play in the NFL.
“When it came to the running game, Lewis was fast enough to chase down running backs and physical enough to make them pay when he did. In Lewis' first 16 seasons, Baltimore never allowed more than 3.9 yards per carry.
“When it came to the passing game, he was explosive enough to rush the passer and athletic enough to cover running backs and tight ends. He's the only player in NFL history to amass 40 sacks and 30 interceptions.
“Lewis isn't simply the best defensive player because of his play. What made Lewis special was how he elevated those around him and consistently made the Ravens the most feared defense. Since 1999, in the 11 seasons in which Lewis has played at least 12 games, the Ravens' defense ranked in the top 10 every year, including eight times in the top three. Teams have signed Lewis' teammates to big contracts (Duane Starks, Ed Hartwell, Sam Adams, Bart Scott) in trying to build their defenses, but few have ever played as they did beside him.”
--- Jen Floyd Engel of Fox Sports says that Lewis was great because he never quit on anything.
“Almost two years ago, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis sat down with a fellow Baltimorean to try to reach him. The guy was struggling. He had once been a legend in his field, yet his motivation had waned. The results were not there, and he was trying to figure out if he wanted to keep going or quit.
“The guy was Michael Phelps, and what Lewis told him at least partially propelled him to London and an Olympic record for more gold medals than anybody else and certified G.O.A.T. status.”
--- Ashley Fox of ESPN.com says that despite his on-field greatness, Lewis leaves a complicated legacy.