NFL: Ravens' Lewis says farewell to fans in Baltimore
By Steve Ginsburg
BALTIMORE (Reuters) - With the clock winding down, Ray Lewis walked to the center of the field to soak it all in.
The Baltimore Ravens sent him out there -- on offense -- just so the crowd could pay homage to the first ballot Hall of Fame linebacker one more time.
And they did. As quarterback Joe Flacco took a knee to close out the game, the crowd roared more for Lewis than the Ravens' 24-9 AFC wild-card playoff victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.
It was theater at its finest. And the 71,379 who packed M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday hailed their hero like Sir Laurence Olivier performing on the London stage.
Every time he made a tackle the crowd stood. Every time he graced the large television screens they cheered. When Lewis trotted on the field each time, a city offered its thanks.
"My total focus today was to come in and play my heart out and get my team a win," said Lewis. "Everything else just came with it.
"There was probably no greater moment than seeing my kids, my mom, my dad -- my family right there in the end zone. That was probably when I lost it emotionally because I knew everything I have always done has been for them."
When the game ended, Lewis launched into his signature dance, an inspirational pre-game ritual that fires up the fans as much his teammates. Players from both teams surrounded the 13-time Pro Bowl linebacker in a show of respect. Continued...