Ray Lewis is embarking on his "last ride" with the Baltimore Ravens. The 13-time Pro Bowler told the team on Wednesday that he will retire after the season.
"It's time for me to create a new legacy," Lewis said, per the Ravens' official Twitter page. Then the always-emotional Lewis stated that he will be on the field for his last game at M&T Bank Stadium. "There is no reason for me not to be playing Sunday."
Ray Lewis announcing he will retire after this season: twitter.com/Ravens/status/…
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) January 2, 2013
According to Albert Breer of the NFL Network, a person in the room told him that Lewis was delivering a passionate speech to the team when he made the announcement.
Lewis will end his 17-year career with one Super Bowl MVP, two Defensive Player of the Year awards and seven times being named First-Team All-Pro.
After word started to spread about Lewis' announcement, several took to Twitter react to the NFL losing one who is widely considered one of the best defensive players of all time.
More from the Associated Press:
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ray Lewis will end his brilliant 17-year NFL career after the Baltimore Ravens complete their 2013 playoff run.
Lewis has been sidelined since Oct. 14 with a torn right triceps. The 13-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker intends to return Sunday to face the Indianapolis Colts in what will almost certainly be his final home game.
"I talked to my team today," Lewis said Wednesday. "I talked to them about life in general. And everything that starts has an end. For me, today, I told my team that this will be my last ride."
Lewis will walk away from the game because he wants to spend more time with his two sons. While working to return from his injury, Lewis watched them play on the same high school football team, and he intends to watch Ray Lewis III perform as a freshman next year for his alma mater, the University of Miami.
"God is calling," the 37-year-old Lewis said. "My children have made the ultimate sacrifice for their father for 17 years. I don't want to see them do that no more. I've done what I wanted to do in this business, and now it's my turn to give them something back."
Which means he'll pull off his No. 52 uniform for the last time after the Ravens are eliminated or win the Super Bowl.
"It's either hold onto the game and keep playing and let my kids miss out on times we can be spending together," Lewis said. "Because I always promised my son if he got a full ride on scholarship Daddy is going to be there. I can't miss that."
Lewis was the AP Defensive Player of the Year in 2000, when Baltimore won the Super Bowl title, and in 2003.
"I never played the game for individual stats. I only played the game to make my team a better team," he said.