11:56 PM EDT, October 18, 2012
He should ... but won't
Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis' legendary career should logically end now because of a torn right triceps.
Rather than subject himself to a strenuous rehab and rebuild his fading game at age 38 next season, Lewis should retire and start the five-year countdown to Canton, when he'll be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Lewis' pride will make him resist this course. He'll restore his arm. He'll want to rewrite the final chapter, not ending on a meaningless tackle of Cowboys runner Phillip Tanner.
He shouldn't, though. The way he played this year illustrated he's a shell of his old vibrant self. But he will, I think, attempt a comeback. This isn't the last we've heard of Ray Lewis.
Too soon to decide
It's too early for Ray Lewis to determine if he should retire. There's still a chance he could even play again this season.
Lewis needs to have surgery to repair his triceps, go through rehab, and then make a decision. He could come to the conclusion that the time is right, given his age and the fact that he has lost some of the speed and athleticism that made him special. Or he could come to the conclusion that he didn't want to go out with an injury.
Lewis is a remarkable player and individual, and if he wants to return in 2013 to play another season, he should be able to perform at a decent level, given his experience, leadership and intelligence.
Has earned right to return
No way. Although he's well past the age when multiple body parts start breaking down for NFL players, Ray Lewis has remained remarkably productive. Last season, for example, he led the Ravens with 95 tackles despite missing four games with injuries.
This year he had a team-best 57 tackles, before he tore his triceps. As long as nothing else goes wrong in the interim, he at least has earned the right to try to come back, and the Ravens probably were right not to finish him for the season. That said, he should have been out of the league after copping a plea in a shady double murder case some 12 years ago, but that's a whole different argument.
Time to hang it up
Los Angeles Times
Although he still is a very serviceable middle linebacker, it is time for Ray Lewis to go, considering his declining football skills, his aging body and the challenge of another year-long rehab if he attempts to come back at 38 years old.
He has his Super Bowl ring, he has his personal accolades and he even reinvented himself after getting mixed up in some high-profile legal issues, so his legacy is intact.
Even as a Raven, the last thing anyone wants to see is what many consider the best linebacker of all time come back and play like O.J. Simpson in a 49ers uniform, Joe Namath in a Rams uniform, Franco Harris in a Seahawks uniform ... How about coming back as a statue outside the Ravens' stadium?
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