Lewis announced days before the first playoff game that he would retire at the end of the season. Asked whether the emotions of this playoff run have caused him to think he's not quite ready to retire yet, Lewis said, "No. I always said to myself I would know when it's time. I knew every sacrifice I made from the time I hurt myself was to get back to my team to make one last push. For the ride to keep going the way it's going, it's just awesome. I've never slowed to really think about, 'Will you come back?' I can't come back."
I don't see Lewis rethinking his decision. Although he's led the team in tackles in the playoffs (and it's amazing that he's never missed a defensive snap), Lewis isn't the same linebacker that he was last season. He's big into legacy and he knows that this magical playoff run is the right note to end his career. Plus, there's no guarantee that the Ravens would pay his $5.4 million salary in 2013.
Running back Ray Rice, who is one of Lewis' closest friends on the team, believes the Lewis' "last ride" has been a factor in the Ravens beating the Colts and Broncos in the playoffs.
"For our general, our captain, this is it for him. If you want to call it riding an emotional high, of course we are," Rice said. "We're going to go out there and give it our best shot for our guy. He's done it for 17 years and led our guys to one Super Bowl. I'm not taking away no credit from the New England Patriots. They set the standard on how to win. But you're talking about a pioneer that laid a platform for the whole NFL. We'd like to send him out the right way."
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, though, believes it's a little bit of an exaggeration to say Lewis' retirement announcement is being used as motivation in the postseason.
"When we're out there, he's giving us the same emotional high he always gives us," Flacco said. "When we're out there playing on Sunday, it's the last thing we're really thinking about. We're thinking about getting the ball in the end zone. Maybe it's working more than I would like to admit. I think that's something you can enjoy after you've gotten the win and say, 'It's pretty cool that we can get another step closer to where we want to be for that guy.'"