Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Quotes from Baltimore Ravens' Ray Lewis ahead of Sunday's Super Bowl between the Ravens and San Francisco 49ers.
(on being an emotional person) "I know along my journey, a lot of people didn't know that one of my driving forces was my grandmother, who is in the hospital and she is on life support right now. Every day, she asks me to promise her that I would bring her one more Super Bowl before she went home. Just to be able to give that to her, and I am always emotional any time when I talk to God. Just having that conversation with Him is so much different than having a conversation with anyone else. I do get emotional in times like that when it is at that point."
(on being considered a legend) "I think when you talk about a legend, when you talk about leaving a legacy, I think it is all about what your peers speak about you, the people you actually impact on and off the field. If nothing else, I have always told people that your greatest leaders are your greatest servants. You are going to find people who lead, lead, lead, but more importantly, they serve more than anything. That is what this team is built around, and that is what my whole legacy is about. My whole legacy from day one when I came in, was I always grabbed someone to try to take them to the next level of being a better man, being a better woman, being a better child, whatever it is. At the end of the day, that is what your legacy wants to be, to leave a great name. Hopefully, I did that."
(on how he is different than he was at his first Super Bowl) "Back then, I was a little bit more of a follower, because I hadn't won a Super Bowl yet, and Shannon (Sharpe) was always trying to tell me what it felt like, what were the things you had to do, and the things you had to give up. So now, it's different, because now I'm a leader going into this Super Bowl, and I have touched the confetti before. Now, there are a bunch of young guys sitting there and saying, ‘Oh my God, I don't believe it's real.' And I'm like, ‘It's real.' So, now I am leading them into what this game is all about and what this 60 minutes is all about. I think that is the biggest difference. I was once a follower, and now I am a leader into this game."
(on what it means for him to be in a Super Bowl) "It is the ultimate. For people who don't know what this stage is all about - every team comes into training camp, and they all have one vision. And, it is to one day be sitting on this podium and getting ready to fight for a NFL championship. As a child, you have always had this dream on what this feeling will feel like. There is no greater feeling in this business to be sitting here right now with a chance to win my second Super Bowl ring. It is a surreal feeling, because all of your hard work, no matter what you go through, the pains you go through, the surgeries you go through, whatever you may go through, and the end result means that you end up back here, it's the ultimate."
(on how he is on the field) "I turn into a different person on the field. I am a totally different person off the field. But on the field, I'm driven to do whatever it takes for my teammates. There are so many of my teammates here today who I've honored and told them that I would do anything in my power so we can feel that confetti drop together, because that is the ultimate. For me being a leader of this team, I owe that to them."
(on his pregame dance) "The dance was called ‘The Squirrel' back in the day, and a guy from my hometown, he used to do all of the time, and I told him one day that I was going to do it. One day, they introduced the defense, and I came out and did the dance. From there, Baltimore just grabbed it and took over. I added music to it and everything else, and it turned into it."
(on his message to his teammates when he announced his retirement) "That message, truthfully, was more about the definitions of a man, the things that I have grown since 1996 walking into that building, all the way up to 2013 and the present. I gave them all of the dos and don'ts in the business, in life, and to teach them. It wasn't about the game so much, because that was very brief how I hit it. I just wanted to tell them before I told anybody else that this would be my last ride. I wanted them to appreciate the ups and downs that go with it when I started with the Ravens. I tried to explain to them that we weren't always in the playoffs, so whoever has been here the last five years, those guys are kind of spoiled. My rookie year, we were 4-12, and 6-9-1. We went through my rocky days, but I wanted to share what being a man to them was. That was what I got out of it the most, because so many teammates after that came to me to have a conversation with me about simple things and about being a man."
(on 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis) "That's a young one, a young lion I talk to a lot. I've been talking to Patrick since his rookie year, and I got into his story a little bit, why he wears 52 and all that. It is actually humbling to know him as a man because when we started talking at Pro Bowls, he would always tell me all of these stories, and we would just have conversations. My job is now, every time I call him, every time I tell him something, I always try to give him good advice, whether it's to stretch more or to do more to have the longevity that you are trying to have in this game. I think he is one of the up-and-coming young stars who plays the game the right way. He plays the game with a certain passion, and plays with a certain discipline. Honestly, I really enjoy watching the young man play."
(on what another Super Bowl title would mean to him) "Honestly, it's the ultimate. You come into the game as a kid, and you always have these dreams, and you see the Super Bowls, and you're like, ‘Oh my gosh, if I can ever be there one day.' In my fifth year, I win it. Then, I go, go, go and I get close, I get close, and now, I am back. I'm back on my last ride. To go out with that confetti coming from the top of this building, and hearing those famous words, that the Ravens are Super Bowl champions, there is no greater legacy. There is no other way that you ask yourself to walk away from the game than to hear those words and to know that when I leave this building tomorrow, I leave it on my terms. That is the ultimate."
(on if the Ravens are a team of destiny) "I believe we have found a way to believe in each other, and nothing else matters. That is one thing about our sideline. When we are on our sideline, there is only one thing that matters, when this game ends, we will be victorious, and everybody believes the same thing. That's what's been our road, no matter who's been up, who's been down, who's been hurt, who's been injured. We found a way to pick each other up. That is what a team is, and I've always said that. The team who wins the Super Bowl is the team who pulls it together chemistry-wise, and everybody believes in one thing. This team is focused on one goal."
(on what his greatest moments are) "The Super Bowl has to be one of them, but if two days I could remember, was the first day I stepped on the practice field and the last day I told my boys that this will be my last ride. I was here long enough to see the beginning and actually feel the end. I've watched people's careers end totally differently. I've watched injuries take out people, and I've watched the sad stories. I always said that I never wanted to go out that way. If I had two moments that I will always remember the rest of my life, they would be the first day I stepped in Baltimore and the last day to say I was done."
(on the San Francisco 49ers) "I don't know if anybody knew this, but my favorite team of all time was the San Francisco 49ers, growing up as a kid. That was my childhood team, probably because of the people who were playing: Ronnie Lott and Roger Craig, who were probably my favorite San Francisco 49ers. This young team that is coming in here now, when you watch them on film, they are young, aggressive, and you see that they are very hungry. Since I've been in this business for 17 years, and I've been with one team for 17 years, and we play the game one way. We play the game on our terms. (Colin) Kaepernick is doing some great things with his legs. We accept the challenge. This is the final dance, so what they do on film, it doesn't intimidate anything we are coming here to do. We are coming here to play football, and if you are carrying the football, from my defense, we gonna hit you, because that is what the game is all about. That is what we are here to do."
(on what he will miss about football) "I am going to miss my teammates, the locker room and what that feels like. Some of us look at us as teammates, but a lot of us will go home as brothers. We will have relationships the rest of our lives. I promise you I haven't slowed down one time to reflect on my retirement yet. I haven't because I can't. If I do that, it means, once again you've always heard me say this, that means I take a selfish approach. This time ain't about me right now. This time is about my team and getting my team this Super Bowl win. That is the only thing on my mind. That day is coming when the confetti drops out of the sky on one of two teams, us or the 49ers. That day is coming. I'm looking forward to it, because I have a lot of things to do outside of the game."