Ravens linebacker Lewis to retire at end of season

Wed Jan 2, 2013 3:51pm EST
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(Reuters) - Baltimore Ravens' linebacker Ray Lewis, a 13-time Pro Bowler and one of the NFL's most ferocious defensive players, announced on Wednesday he was retiring after this season's playoffs.

"This will be my last ride," Lewis, 37, said in a statement.

The AFC North champion Ravens are hosting the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday in the opening round of the playoffs, but it was not yet certain Lewis would be activated for the game.

Lewis has not played since he tore his triceps during a Week Six win over the Dallas Cowboys in October.

The inside linebacker, twice the NFL Defensive Player of the Year and most valuable player in Baltimore's 2001 Super Bowls, issued his statement after addressing team mates.

"I can't picture Baltimore without him," running back Ray Rice told reporters about the Ravens' first-round pick of the 1996 NFL draft, who spent his entire 17-year career with the Ravens.

As word of Lewis's retirement spread tributes poured in from across the league on social media from both past and present players.

"I'd like to take a moment to honor a great career and player in @raylewis a worthy opponent," praised Detroit Lions Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders on his Twitter account.

"Best Overall LBer and Leader in NFL history," echoed former-New York Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce.   Continued...

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis is introduced to the crowd before playing the Detroit Lions in a preseason NFL football game in Baltimore, Maryland, August 17, 2012. REUTERS/Patrick Smith