Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis to end career in Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH. Last Updated: 23/01/13 8:39pm
The 'last ride' for Baltimore Ravens stalwart Ray Lewis will now have its final stop in New Orleans, with the legendary linebacker hoping to bow out of the NFL with a second Super Bowl victory.
Lewis has made the Ravens the 'team of destiny' after returning from serious injury to then proclaim this season would be the 17th and last of his illustrious career.
The 37-year-old, a 13-time Pro Bowler, then watched on as Joe Flacco and the Ravens scored a thrilling late touchdown in Denver that eventually led them to the AFC Championship game - where they beat the Patriots for a place in the Super Bowl.
- 1st round draft pick (26) by Baltimore from Miami
- 13x Pro Bowl selection, 7x All-Pro team
- Winner and MVP of Super Bowl XXXV
- Only player in NFL history with 40 sacks and 30 interceptions
- Two-time Defensive Player of the Year
Lewis is now looking to sign off his career by adding to the Super Bowl ring he won with Baltimore, his only NFL team, 12 years ago, when he was the MVP of the game in Tampa - and he was as emotional as ever after his team made it back to the big game.
"For me to come out and say this was my last ride and for now to be headed back to the Super Bowl with the possibility of winning a second ring, how else do you cap off a career?" Lewis said.
"The last ride - I can only tell you I'm along for the ride."
Lewis has long been the emotional leader of the Ravens, and he was delighted his team-mates such as Ray Rice, and in particular quarterback Joe Flacco, will get to play in the Super Bowl.
"I really wanted them to feel what that confetti felt like, just hearing your name being announced going to the Super Bowl," Lewis said.
Flacco has had his critics but he Lewis has always believed in his quarterback - the Ravens triggerman has responded with a wonderful play-off run.
"The cool thing about Ray is that he's excited about getting back there and having the opportunity to win another one for himself," Flacco said. "But he's more excited because he's felt it and wants all of us to feel it and he knows what it feels like."
Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata summed up what the Ravens are feeling now as they try and carry Lewis all the way to the trophy - and that may prove a hard team to stop for San Francisco.
"Ray Lewis has done so much for this team and for Baltimore. For us to help him get to the Super Bowl for his retirement is an amazing feeling," Ngata said. "I'm just happy to be on his team at this time."
Coach John Harbaugh, who will face his brother Jim in New Orleans, also had some thoughts on Lewis, especially the way he can back early from injury to go straight back into leading the team through the play-offs.
"I'm just feeling an incredible amount of awe," Harbaugh said. "Ray's a guy that has turned everything over.
"He's surrendered everything and he's become the man that he is to this day. He's a different man than he was when he was 22 or 15 or whatever. I think everybody sees that right now. It's a very special deal."