New Orleans – There is no question that the player garnering the most attention in this year’s Super Bowl is one of the most dominating defensive players in the history of the game, Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens.
His career hit rock bottom, stemming from the incident in Atlanta, when he was allegedly involved in the murder of two men prior to the Super Bowl in that city in 1990.
Lewis’ career began its ascent when he led the Ravens over the New York Giants in the 2001 Super Bowl. He was named game MVP. The Ravens came within one dropped pass and a late missed field goal from getting to the big game last year. Lewis would not go out like that. After making the playoffs and prior to their first post season game, Lewis stunned his teammates by announcing that he would retire after the year is over.
Super Bowl or not, Lewis said he was done.
The last ride is how he described it. After the shock wore off, the team’s (a tight nit group to begin with) bond got stronger. Lewis talked about a variety of subjects at media day Tuesday at the Mercedes-Benz Super Dome in front of a crowd of reporters that rivaled an Obama press conference.
Lewis remembered thinking this playoff thing would last forever. “When you get drafted to the team that’s in the Super Bowl the year before you get drafted you kind of assume that you’re going to be there.”
Although he quickly began establishing himself as an elite player, the team struggled his first couple of years before finally put it all together thoroughly trouncing the Giants, 34-7.
Lewis knows his role changed before the first Super Bowl and the one he is getting ready to play. “Back then I was a little more of a follower because I hadn’t won a Super Bowl,” he said. “Now I’m a leader going into this Super Bowl, because I have touched the confetti before. Now there’s a bunch of young guys saying I don’t believe this is real. So now, I’m leading them into what this game is all about. I was once a follower now I’m a leader.”
Lewis was on the brink of never getting one ring because of that fateful night in Atlanta. He made changes in his personal life, “I make sure I watch who I’m around,” he said.
Now he is ready and poised to get that second ring. Lewis has arrived on that legendary status. “When you talk about a legend, when you talk about leaving a legacy, I think it’s all about what your peers speak about you … the people that you impact on and off the field. That is what my legacy is all about.”
His teammates, family and friends would surely agree.