Ray Lewis' statement to the media today at the Under Armour Performance Center:
"I talked to my team today and I talked to them about life in general. Everything that starts has an end. It's just life. For me, today, I told my team that this would be my last ride. I told them I just felt so much peace in where I am with my decision because of everything I've done in this league. I've done it, man. There's no accolade that I don't have individually but I've never played the game for individual stats. I've only played the game to make my team be a better team. Now, God is calling. God is calling in so many other areas of life and my children have made the ultimate sacrifice for their father, the ultimate for 17 years. Whether it's jump on the plane, jump right back, go to school, and I don't want to see them do no more. I've done what I wanted to do in this business and now, it's my turn to give them back something. It's either hold onto the game or keep playing or let my kids miss out on times we could be sharing together. I promised my son if he got a full-ride scholarship, Daddy was going to be there. I can't miss that. I don't know if I could sit in a meeting room and fight with that war. One of the hardest things in the world is to walk away from my teammates because that's my brotherhood, the only thing that I ever played for is to be right there and to raise Ed and to be with Sizzle for so long and to sit next to him. We're so much on the same path. Does that part hurt? Absolutely. You can never rebuild those bonds. Those bonds are forever. But the chapter is huge for me to now step into other areas of life. I may be gone now. But I ain't gone forever. I'm just going in another phase of life. I think my fans, I think my city, they deserve it. They deserve that whenever this road stops, for me not just to walk away and be like, 'I'm done.' I think we all get to enjoy what Sunday will feel like knowing that this will be the last time 52 plays in a uniform in Ravens' stadium."
"I knew it honestly because I knew where I couldn't divide anymore. I couldn't split my time. When God calls, he calls, and he's calling. More importantly, where he aligns me at is he calls me to be a father. 'It's OK to be Daddy' and it's OK to say that this chapter is closing. But the chapter that is open is overwhelming. That's the thing that excites me the most. I told my teammates that's what is set up for me now, I could never see this day. I can always push, push, push. There's always next year, next year, next year, next summer, next summer, whatever. I could never see that day and I've watched other people's retirements and I've watched so many other different things. I've always said when I go out, I will make sure that I give Him all the glory for letting me be able to stand here after 17 years. God forbid, I don't have injuries that are really going to hamper me when I'm done playing the game. I played the game at a very, very high level and a very rough pace. But for me to be where I am standing as a man now and just say, 'Make my own.' I make this last run with my team. I give them everything that I got. That's one thing I shared with them in that meeting. I said, 'I'm going to give you everything that I got because this is our last one. And wherever it ends, I didn't come back for it to end in the first round."
"It will be hard not to think about it. Torrey asks me every day, when are they going to see me come out back out of that tunnel. He's just one of many. But that moment is for everybody from the day I walked in here in 1996. That moment, to walk out of the tunnel Sunday, every person that was a Ravens fan in 1996 to this day, we will all enjoy that moment. We will all savor in that moment. I can't tell you how I will feel when that moment comes. I can only tell you that it will be probably one of the glorious moments of my life."
"You got to be careful with them because we're connected. We're all connected. Did it bother them? Probably. But I think they respect it. I think they respect the fact that I didn't come to everybody else before I came to them. It was more of a brotherhood that I really wanted to discuss with them. That's what I was talking about, being a man about understanding the things that a man should be able to carry in life. The game will fade one day but being a man will never fade. You came into this world a man and you're going to die a man. My teammates respect that to the ultimate and I had to respect them by giving them that courtesy about coming out and saying, 'you all deserve this first. You guys all deserve this first that I've ran my course with this and now man, I'm overwhelmed telling you inside out. The emotions are very controlled because I never redo one day. I've never tried to redo one day. Every moment I've ever had in this building, what this organization has done for me, what this city has done for me, what my fans have done for me, what the mutual respect from different players have done for me around this league, I can never take any of that back. That's the ultimate when you leave this game, you leave it with one heck of a legacy. Hopefully, I've done a heck of a job doing it but it's time for me to go and create a different legacy."
"I knew it was probably it when I had to look at my son. It's hard to look at him and know that he's going through some of the things that I'm going through and see the warrior side of him and see ultimately what he needs. My decision was kind of made up from the first day I went down there and I was in the cast and I watched his game. I said you know what, 'you got to go back and finish it.' I've always taught my children, if you start something, finish it. That was my whole goal so my mind was kind of made up then, that I had to come back and make this one last run."
"When he did that, he did say, 'Daddy, do you remember what we talked about?" I said, 'Yeah junior, I know what you're talking about, baby.' That's what I always promised him. I promised him that I wouldn't put myself before them when it comes to my baby going to college and making that next step in life."
"My legacy, like I said, accolade-wise, whatever. I've done it. I used to sit back and I'd marvel: "Rest in piece, Junior Seau,' his legacy and at his run. It was Pro Bowl after Pro Bowl after Pro Bowl. I'm like, wow, who does that? How can you be at that level? Then, I started making my own mark and then I realized that I can do a lot of things great individually but I wanted to be known differently. I wanted to make men better. I wanted to figure out ways to challenge men to not let the game dictate your emotions and not let the game dictate if you are mad, you're glad, you're sad. No, be who you are as a man. Walk with who you are as a man, and be OK with being a man. My whole focus changed almost in the middle of my career. I was blessed. I was blessed to have a Rod Woodson, a Shannon Sharpe. I was blessed to have Tony Siragusa, I was blessed to have Rob Burnett, Michael McCrary. I was blessed to have some great guys who took me under their wing and said,' This is the way you should live life.' My legacy now is when I listen to people and I hear people call me whatever, it is, 'Thank you for doing this for me, thank you for doing that for me.' If that's my legacy, helping people, then so be it.' Going forward, the world is my oyster. God has created so many opportunities for me and there's a lot of things that I've always put on hold for the game, that I could never do because of the game. I would never put nothing in front of the game. I think that was the biggest difference for me and a lot of other people. A lot of other people would entertain a lot of things, I wouldn't. I'd shoot a couple of commercials here and there but I'm not going to put too much more in front of the game.' It's a new chapter that I've already pre-planned out. There's a lot of things that are lined up and I got a lot of great people that I'm working with.'
"Four more football games in me? I got way more than that. I just have to make a decision to cut it off at four."
"I don't think the people I work with would tell me no Sunday. We've gotten to a great relationship with each other that I trust them and they trust me. I've worked my butt off to get to this point. There is no reason for me not to be playing Sunday."
"We talk every other day. We're texting every other day. We're texting something to each other. It was funny because me and him said the same thing. Of course, don't ever let me put my injury on his level because his is way more series than mine but that's what we talked about. Because of the things that we had shared as men, it was amazing that we were going through adversity at the same time. That's why every day, I would send a scripture to him and I would send thoughts to him. We'd just start hitting each other up back and forth and keeping each other laughing. It was just a bond that was created over the last few months that probably only me and him knew we had, that strong of a bond. For Chuck to come back here man, like I said, the game will fade one day, but that brotherhood, that manhood we created, will never die. I'm looking forward to seeing him and looking forward to getting back where this game will start."