Lewis joins elite group who ended their careers by lifting the Super Bowl.
Ray Lewis said so long to the National Football League and he did it in style, going out a champion after the Baltimore Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers to win Super Bowl 47.
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Lewis helped the Ravens edge the 49ers 34-31 as he earned his second NFL title. He won his first Super Bowl in the 2000 NFL season, also picking up the MVP honours in that game.
The 37-year-old Lewis joins former NFL greats John Elway, Jerome Bettis and Michael Strahan as players who were able to win a Super Bowl in their last season.
“What better way to go out?” asked Lewis. “I can think about myself a little bit now.
“I was tested through this journey. It was an up-and-down roller-coaster, the injuries, the people and we (Ravens) stayed together.
“And now I get to ride off into the sunset with my second ring.”
Lewis had the big impact he was looking for in his final game but it wasn’t an easy week in New Orleans for him.
He was dogged by allegations that linked him to a substance banned by the National Football League. Lewis dismissed a Sports Illustrated report that he had tried to obtain a deer antler velvet extract to help speed his recovery from a torn triceps injury.
Lewis missed the Ravens’ final 10 regular season games with the injury.
The NFL defensive player of the year in 2000 had 57 tackles and one sack in six regular season games.
After dealing with the disruptions during the regular season he was able to take his final bows with his head up.
“I had dreams after dreams. I couldn’t sleep,” Lewis said. “Every time I saw this moment. I tried to let my teammates know what this moment would feel like… as a team we finished the race.”
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who was chosen MVP of the Super Bowl, said Lewis was able to put winning into perspective for them.
“The cool thing about Ray is that it means a lot to win it for him,” Flacco said. “Not only did he win it for himself but he wanted all of us to know what it is like to win this game.
“So the fact he has that outlook just made it very special for this to come true.”
Lewis said he is looking forward to a new chapter in his life.
“The only thing that ends for me is football. Life really begins for Ray Lewis now.”
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