Ray Lewis, the 37-year-old Baltimore Ravens linebacker plans to retire after the season, but before his own clash of the titans with New England in the AFC championship game he had a few minutes for the Media Guy…
MEDIA GUY: What do you most remembered for at the end of his career?
RAY LEWIS: I think the greatest thing you can ever be remembered for is the impact and things that you had on other people. At the end of the day, with all of the men that I’ve been around, to one day look back here and listen to men say, ‘He was one of people who helped changed my life,’ is probably one of the greatest legacies to be remembered for.”
|(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) AP2013|
MG: How special has this Ravens team been this year?
RL: With everything that we went through, the up and down roller coaster all year, the injuries and things we went through … We dealt with so much the entire year. For us to fight, fight, fight, fight and now be back here with the same opportunity … We were here last year in the same position. We were a catch away, a field goal away from going to the Super Bowl. For us to be back here shows how dedicated we were to get back to this point. I just tip my hat and give credit to my team. No matter what we went through this year, we fought to get back here.”
MG: NFL offenses are pushing the envelope more now, what is the challenge to be a dominating defense in this era of the NFL:?
RL: We have to be very honest about it. It favors [the offense]. It favors the offense with the rules and all of the different things that are put in now. Defensively, you can’t touch them here, you can’t hit them high, you can’t hit them low. It kind of favors them to pick up the pace and try to … I call it steal yardage throughout the game. That’s what kind of makes it hard. Even if you are on defense and make the perfect hit, you get flagged 15 yards here, because the pace is so fast, we have to kind of slow the pace down and line up. If you watched the [Houston vs. New England game], [the Patriots] were able to get people out of alignment, people were standing around on the goal line, which is supposed to be the hardest place to score. But it was the easiest place for [the Patriots] because [the Texans] weren’t getting lined up and things. I think it’s kind of give and take.
MG: What the difference in defense from the beginning of your career to the end?
RL: Absolutely. Earlier in my career, honestly, you just didn’t have so many rules. There are so many rules that are put in now, and of course, I’m a biased [defensive player]. There are so many rules that are put in now for the offense. So, it helps them. It favors them a lot. Why wouldn’t they do it? You throw the ball downfield and there is favorable pass interference, you hurry up and get 12 men on the field. There are so many things that favor [the offense] and it’s changed so much from earlier in my career to now.”
MG: What’s the differences between playing Peyton Manning and Tom Brady?
RL: You’re talking about arguably the top two or three greatest quarterbacks of all time. So when you go from Peyton Manning to Tom Brady, you’re going from 1A to 1A. It’s not like you get a drop-off. I’d back up to the same fact we had last week. Is he going to make plays? Absolutely. But you have to play the whole game. You have to be patient enough to let them make plays and move on to the next play. You can’t harp on one play good or bad. You have to keep on moving. These are guys, and I always said, they play chess matches. That’s the thing that you have to be prepared to play when you get ready to play these guys, because they understand the game so well. Playing against Brady and just watching him sometimes, you’re always in awe on watching on how good he really is.
MG: What will you miss the most when you end your career?
RL: I think the brotherhood. There is nothing greater than the brotherhood. It’s what I kind of preach in my locker room. I understand we’re in an age where social media is kind of taking over, but I kind of try to get my guys to really understand how close your locker room has to be. And when you come into the locker room, understand who your brothers are. Understand who the men are that you are fighting with. Because, that’s the thing you’ll remember the most. The wars and battles, they are going to always take care of themselves, and that’s competition and most of us have been in that our entire lives. But what we will always remember the most are those locker rooms. What they felt like and the commitment and sacrifices you guys made – that’s the thing that when you are done with the game, you will definitely miss what those locker rooms felt like.
MG: What is the most extraordinary moment of your football career?
RL: You always have to ask yourself, ‘How can you top the moment of hearing those famous words?’ And that is, ‘Ravens have won the Super Bowl.’ When you play the game, that is what you play the game for. You play and hope that one day you hear those words. That is what I am trying to get this team to go back and hear one more time. So they can really feel what it feels like. Because once you hear it, like I tell all of them, your life will never be the same again. That is what I am trying to get these young guys to understand – don’t let the moments go by so fast. Cherish the moment. And that for me, when you sum up my career, that can never be taken away from you. Once you are a champion, you are always a champion, and that is probably one of the greatest things I will remember of all time.