NFL: Ravens' Lewis says farewell to fans in Baltimore

Sun Jan 6, 2013 7:21pm EST
 

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...

 
Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Ray Lewis waves as he rounds the field after the Ravens defeated the Indianapolis Colts in their NFL AFC wildcard playoff football game in Baltimore January 6, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst