At 37, Ray Lewis must battle Father Time

Ray Lewis has done it all in his illustrious 17-year career for the Baltimore Ravens. He’s been selected to 13 Pro Bowls, named a first-team All-Pro seven times, won a Super Bowl, been named Super Bowl MVP and is a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Now the 37-year-old Lewis is trying to defy Father Time.

After the Ravens’ gut-wrenching defeat to the New England Patriots in last season’s AFC Championship game, Lewis was eager about returning for the 2012 season, but there has to be questions about whether he will play beyond this year.

In an April 2011 interview with NFL Network’s Frank Tadych, Lewis said, “I can’t see myself playing football past 37.” Things changes, though.

But at some point, Lewis is going to have to hang up the pads. Nothing lasts forever. Recently, though, there haven’t been any indications that he will be calling it quits anytime soon.

He is under contract through the 2015 season, and the Ravens showed their faith in Lewis when they passed on drafting his eventual successor in April’s draft.
Lewis was his normal self and played like one of the best inside linebackers in the first half of 2011. Then, after missing four straight games (Week 11-14) with a turf toe injury, it was evident he lost a step. This offseason, the University of Miami product shed 15 pounds to get down to 240 pounds to try to retain his trademark sideline to sideline speed.

He’s been one of the league’s most reliable players. Lewis has played in 222 games, second-most among active players, trailing only Detroit Lions’ kicker Jason Hanson. He’s also the only holdover from the 1996 team (the Ravens’ first year in Baltimore). To put that in perspective, the second-longest tenured Raven is safety Ed Reed, who was drafted by Baltimore in 2002.

As Lewis continues to age, you really have to wonder whether 2012 will be his final rodeo. 

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