Those efforts have largely foundered. The lot near M&T Bank Stadium where a Ray Lewis-themed sports complex was supposed to sit will instead be home to Baltimore's casino. Full Moon Bar-B-Que closed in 2009. No bowling alley was ever built, and contractors who did preliminary work on the project complained of being stiffed for more than $1 million. RL52 Style, as the clothing line was called, never caught on and a website dedicated to the products no longer works.
According to the website for The RL52 Group — the parent organization for Lewis' charitable foundation and some of his business interests — Lewis is currently involved in marketing nutritional supplements and merchant services. A separate website for RL52 Cycling advertises a series of training videos featuring Lewis.
Sports Illustrated has estimated that nearly 80 percent of NFL players go bankrupt or fall into financial distress within two years of retiring, in part because of poor investment choices and partnerships gone wrong.
Ravens president Dick Cass, speaking generally and not about Lewis in particular, said last fall that players often jump into business deals without having the proper expertise or guidance. "They try to do the right thing but don't know how," he said.
Jamal Lewis, a running back who spent seven years with the Ravens starting in 2000, said last year that he was forced to file for bankruptcy last year because of failed investments.
Unlike other players who last only a few years, Ray Lewis has earned $111 million over a 17-year career according to Spotrac, a website dedicated to tracking player contracts. One of the most trusted players in the league, he has advocated for young players to have a hands-on role in their business dealings.
Once the last whistle of his storied career sounds — be it this weekend or in February — Lewis will be able to focus on building RL52.
"His future business success will be predicated on his learning the ins and outs of business and how they apply to opportunities placed in front of him," Carter said, "as well as surrounding himself with capable business managers that actually have his best interests in mind."