OWINGS MILLS - Sunday could be the final time that Ray Lewis walks through the tunnel at M&T Bank Stadium.
The future Hall of Fame middle linebacker, and the face of the Ravens' franchise since its inception in 1996, announced today that he plans to retire at the conclusion of this season.
"I talked to my team today, and I talked to them about life, life in general," Lewis said. "Everything that starts has an end. That's life. And for me, today, I told my team that will be my last ride."
The second draft pick in franchise history, Lewis has been selected to the Pro Bowl 13 times during his 17 NFL seasons. He's a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year and was the MVP of Super Bowl XXXV, leading the Ravens to the first and only Super Bowl victory in franchise history.
"He's probably going to be labeled the greatest middle linebacker of all time," Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "I think that's an amazing legacy to leave. He was on a record-setting defense led by him, and he's done some amazing things. It's been awesome to play aside a giant such as that, a legend like that."
Lewis hasn't played since suffering a torn triceps in mid-October, but said he will play in Sunday's AFC Wild Card matchup with the Indianapolis Colts in what could ultimately be the last home game of his storied career.
Lewis returned to practice Dec. 5, less than two months after sustaining an injury that typically involves a three to four month recovery.
"I've worked my butt off to get to this point, so there's no reason for me to not be playing Sunday," Lewis said.