Sudden death: Ray Lewis, living legend

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In the words of the great Ray Lewis, “We get one opportunity in life. One chance at life to do
whatever you’re going to do, and lay your foundation and make whatever mark you’re going to make.
Whatever legacy you’re going to leave; leave your legacy!”

Whether Lewis wins his second super bowl or not on Feb. 3, he will have certainly left his legacy as
possibly the greatest and most feared linebackers to ever strap on the pads and lace up the cleats.

After 17 seasons in the NFL consistently anchoring one of the best defenses in the league year in
and year out, Ray Lewis will play in his last game ever in super bowl 47. I don’t know about you, but I’m
still having a hard time wrapping my head around that. It’s like an entire new era of football is about to
begin.

Being the Pittsburgh Steelers fan that I am, a part of me is glad that we won’t have to play him
anymore, but an even bigger part of me is absolutely devastated that I won’t get to watch him dominate
like he has for so long. After 13 pro bowls, two defensive MVP awards along with being the MVP of
Super Bowl 35, the NFL will never have another Ray Lewis.

Sure, there are other great linebackers in the NFL today that are fun to watch such as Patrick Willis,
Von Miller, Clay Matthews, etc., but those are players that are in their prime, players that are supposed
to be great.

After 17 years in the NFL, Ray Lewis should not be the player that he is today. It really doesn’t make
any logical sense. He is the definition of a freak of nature, and it is simply amazing to watch. The guy
is 38-years-old and playing at the same level that he has his entire career, and that is after he was
supposed to be out for the season with a triceps injury.

That’s where the beauty lies in it. Seventeen years later, Lewis is able to bring a new understanding of
the game to the table, a new level of intensity and wisdom.

Never in my life have I seen an athlete that has wanted to win so much.

He is the Kobe Bryant of the NFL. No, I take that back. Ray Lewis is the Ray Lewis of the NFL. You
cannot compare him to any other athlete in the world because there really is no other athlete like him.

The one thing that separates him from everyone else out there is that he doesn’t do it for himself.
He doesn’t do it for the glory or for the money. He does it for his pure love of the game, and more
importantly, he does it for his teammates.

Lewis once said, “With the mindset that I give everything I’ve got for the man that’s next to me, not
me, cause I know what I got while I’m by myself, but when I step on the field, when I step on the turf,
what am I willing to sacrifice?”

Do you think he has sacrificed his body as much as he has the past 17 years to stay in shape and play
at the highest level just for him? Just for his own glory and his own goals? Anyone that has listened to
him speak about the game, or has had the privilege to play with him knows exactly why he plays.

“The biggest thing that goes unsaid about Ray is how much he invests in the relationships with his
teammates. You see the antics. You see the enthusiasm, the passion on the field, but off the field he’s
the first guy to go sit at a locker with someone that’s struggling with something, whether it’s football
related or not football related. He has that personal touch. You trust everything about him and he
makes everybody better,” said former teammate Trent Dilfer.

That is what the great ones are able to do. Everyone around him is giving all they have because they
are all trying to match the intensity and passion that Lewis is putting forth for all of them. Whether you
love or hate the Ravens and Ray Lewis, you have to admire the level of dedication and persistence that
Lewis has played with since they day he stepped on the field.

I still remember being 8-years-old watching a Ravens-Steelers game with my dad and asking him,
“Dad, who is Ray Lewis? They keep calling his name.” He said, “Number 52, son. That’s the next
Lawrence Taylor.”

Nowadays the roles are switched. I hear people say things like, “Patrick Willis is the next Ray Lewis,”
and hear Skip Bayless say the same about Manti Te’o.

I don’t understand how someone could ever say that. They might be the next Lawrence Taylor, but I
promise there will never, ever be another Ray Lewis.

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