OWINGS MILLS, Md. — For weeks, no one could determine when The Ray Lewis Retirement Tour would draw to a close.
Since Lewis announced on Jan. 2 his “last ride” in the NFL would coincide with the end of the Ravens’ postseason run, there was the possibility that each game would be his last.
Now, after successful stops in Denver and New England, there is no longer any doubt: Win or lose, Lewis will perform for the final time on Feb. 3, in New Orleans on the NFL’s grandest stage.
It wouldn’t be surprising if Lewis approached the Super Bowl with a feeling of finality, but the 37-year-old middle linebacker insisted yesterday that he’s thinking only about helping the Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers.
“Honestly, outside of putting my head in the playbook and studying San Fran, I really haven’t thought about anything else,” Lewis said.
“It’s going to be a great day, period, no matter what happens. And that’s kind of the way I’ve approached it,” he said. “I haven’t even said, ‘Oh man, this is your last game, what do you think?’ I really haven’t. Because I just really am keeping my teammates focused on the real prize.”
Now in his 17th season, Lewis is preparing for his second Super Bowl — the first in 12 years. The last time he played for the NFL championship, Lewis earned MVP honors in Baltimore’s 34-7 win over the New York Giants.
After waiting all this time to get back, Lewis has no intention of merely settling for being part of the big game.
“The real prize is actually going and winning the Super Bowl,” he said. “It’s great to get there, don’t get me wrong, but to win it is something special.”