Towards the conclusion of his 16th season in the NFL, several questioned whether Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis still had the physical tools to play at the high standard he has set for himself throughout his career. The future Hall of Famer sat out four games with injuries during the course of the season and finished with 44 less tackles that he accumulated in 2010. While Lewis' physical skill-set may be waning, it's very clear after watching the video above, that his leadership and passion are not.
Following his team's tough loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game, Lewis rallied his team in such a way that only a seasoned veteran can -- providing his team with encouragement and refusing to place blame on any single player for the loss.
Transcript via The Tucson Citizen:
God has never made a mistake, it ain’t about one play.
This year, we did what we were supposed to do, we fought as a team... There will be one Super Bowl champ crowned at the end of this year, that's it. So the way we feel, somebody gonna feel like that tomorrow, and somebody gonna feel like that in a week. That's a fact. And the fact is, we gotta come back and go to work to make sure we finish it next time. That's all we gotta do.
Joe, you played your (butt) off. You hear me, man? I'm telling you, man, don't ever — don't ever — drop your head when it comes to a loss, dog, because there's too much pain outside of this that people are really going through. This right here makes us stronger. Let's understand who we are as a team, let's understand who we are as men, and let's make somebody smile when we walk out of here. We got the opportunity to keep going, men. Let's be stronger as a team, men. Let's be who we are.
The game went down to the wire and Baltimore had a chance in the final seconds to send it into overtime, but Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff's field goal attempt went wide left. As such, we have to applaud Lewis for providing his team with perspective on the loss and attempting to cheer up his teammates who were likely reeling.
Lewis has indicated that he has no plans on retiring. Given the passion he clearly still has for the game, it's not difficult to understand why he feels this way.
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