This is it... Whatever happens over the next four weeks, and then some, it will be the last of Ray Lewis that Ravens fans will see playing for the Purple and Black. Today Lewis officially announced his retirement to the world or, at least his intention to after this post season.
Lewis has spent the majority of the season resting his torn biceps in hopes that he would once again be able to strap on the pads when it matters, in the post season. He just wanted that one last shot at hoisting the Lombardi Trophy high over his head with confetti streaming down all around him.
Well, he will get that chance as the Ravens, despite his absence, still went on to win the AFC North and will host a week one playoff game against the most poetic of opponents, the Indianapolis Colts. Does it get any more Shakespearean than this? The team that long ago crept away so quietly in the night in Mayflower trucks to move to their new home in Indianapolis. The team that has knocked the Ravens out of the playoffs when it looked like the title was theirs for the taking. The team that was lead by all time great quarterback Peyton Manning, perhaps Lewis' only equal and yet total opposite when it comes to the game of football. A true adversary, Perhaps the greatest quarterback ever to play the game against the greatest defensive player ever to play.
Now, just to make things more dynamic the Colts are coached by former Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano. A man who many Ravens looked to as a father figure and still love to this day. Pagano has had his own battle this season however. A battle with Leukemia that took a toll on his body and mind but a battle that gave his team a reason to band together and fight for their coach. Pagano won his battle and so did his team as they supported each other throughout the season and now here they stand as the first obstacle in Lewis' and the Ravens way to hoisting that Lombardi Trophy.
There will be tears and emotion emanating from both sides as they prepare for battle. The Colts franchise took so much from the soul of Baltimore and has kept taking over the years. They have taken other opportunities from Lewis during his quest over the past few seasons. Will this be the year that Ray finally gets that monkey off of his shoulder and gets to ride off into the sunset with his head held high? Or, will the Colts,once again turn him away from his dream and end his career with bitter defeat?
Of course Lewis is a Hall Of Fame Player that deserves to walk anywhere he wants with his head held high but this game has got to have some special meaning to everyone involved and if it didn't before, it most certainly does now. This will be a battle that no one in Baltimore will ever forget no matter the outcome. Good luck Ray, we all will miss and love you. I cherish having had the chance to watch you play.