No matter how you feel about NFL linebacker Ray Lewis, one thing is certain – the man was a beast on the field throughout his 17 year stint as a pro. Few players dominated the defense like Lewis. But like all good things, his career will come to an end at the conclusion of this season. The face of the Baltimore Raven franchise announced Wednesday that he will retire after the playoffs. ”Everything that starts has an end,” the 37-year-old Lewis said. ”For me, today, I told my team that this will be my last ride,” Lewis told news reporters at the Ravens’ Owings Mills, Md., headquarters.

Sidelined since Oct. 14 with a torn triceps, Lewis plans to return for a final playoff push. In what will most likely be his final home game – unless the Ravens meet the Benglas in the AFC Championship – the 13-time Pro Bowler will take the field this Sunday against Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts. 

In 2000, Lewis and the Ravens pummeled the New York Giants 34-7 in Superbowl 35, and became only the 3rd wildcard team to win the big game. Lewis was voted Super Bowl MVP, and also accepted the honor of AP Defensive Player of the Year that same season. Three years later he received his second Defensive Player of the Year award.

Over the years, Lewis built some amazing stats. To this day, he is the only NFL player to record at least 40 career sacks and 30 interceptions. Although he piled up the individual accolades and numbers, he was the ultimate teammate. ”I never played the game for individual stats,” Lewis said. ”I only played the game to make my team a better team.”

Will Lewis get one final shot at another Super Bowl appearance? The odds are against him, but if there’s one thing we learned about No. 52, and the tough Ravens’ defense, it’s never to count them out. Stay tuned. The 2013 NFL playoffs should be a blast. 

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