Ray Lewis still loves his fellow players and the game. He loves being in the locker room. He likes the packed stadiums and their bright lights along with the red light that shines when a camera is on.
Those things define him as a player, but not as a man. Behind the scenes and away from the limelight, Lewis has worked more miracles working with the sick and poor than on any football field.
When he retires, he will become a great goodwill ambassador for The Lord.
But it's not time yet.
Lewis has three years left on a contract worth about $7.3 million, $5.4 million and $6.5 million. Money, though, isn't the driving force. He wants to win another Super Bowl title to cement his legacy.
The Ravens have made it clear, at least publicly, that they will not influence Lewis one way or another about retiring. They don't want to take on the icon.
That status is what will drive Lewis to return next season. Legends don't die because of injuries. John Unitas didn't go out that way, and neither did Joe Montana.
Ray Lewis won't either.
No. 52 will return for No. 18. It's now become personal and his spirit won't allow his career to end this way.