Lewis says teammates trying to talk him into playing next year

January 29, 2013 | WNST Staff

LINEBACKER RAY LEWIS

 

(on if he thinks about the ‘lasts’ of his career this week) “I think honestly that I have already put it aside. I promise you that is the last thing on my mind: Is this the last? Is this the last? The most important thing for me is to be the leader that I am for my team, and really go out and try to win this football game. That is really the only thing on my mind right now.”

 

(on advice to teammates about Super Bowl week) “You have to be real honest with them, and lay it out. What are we really here for? The bottom line is, we are here to win a game, and there are only two teams left. For us to be where we are right now, we have to finish what we started the whole year. For me, that was one thing when we came here in 2000, there were so many guys who were so dialed in and so focused. It’s the same thing I am trying to spread to this team. What is our focus? Why are we really here in New Orleans? I know it’s a lot of things going on, there are a lot of things you could be doing outside, but the bottom line is that we are here for a business trip.”

 

(on the sendoff the team got in Baltimore today) “That’s Baltimore, man. That city is awesome, and today’s sendoff was absolutely electric. To feel that feeling again, and to answer all of the questions the guys had, like, ‘Oh my gosh, I didn’t know it was going to feel like this,’ and to see their faces. I told John (Harbaugh) and a couple of other guys, ‘This feeling is great, and the sendoff was awesome, but there is nothing better than coming home as world champions. That is what we are here for, to bring a world championship back to Baltimore.”

 

(on how the sendoff was for him) “Honestly, all week you heard guys talking like, ‘Man, I can’t believe we are here. We made it, we made it.’ Today, it actually confirmed for a lot of people that it’s real. It’s really real. Now, you have to really realize that there are two teams left. There is no next week. Whoever wins this game will feel the confetti dropping. It is one of the most ultimate feelings I have ever felt in my life. I would love to really experience that with these guys.”

 

(on his sense of the team right now) “The thing I sense the most about our team is that we are so loose as a core, but it is so beautiful when we step on the practice field. Coach (Harbaugh) never has to dictate practice, we kind of dictate practice. He will tell us to slow down in walkthrough practice, and we will pick it back up ourselves. Anytime you have that type of chemistry, the level of wisdom, talent and leadership we have, it’s a real great thing to have on our team. I think that’s why our team is so focused right now.”

 

(on his first NFL sack against 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh) “Absolutely, I remember it. How could I forget it? It is one of those things that when you are playing the game when you first come in as a rookie, you are just running around. And I was just running around making plays. When I sacked him, I remember getting up and doing this dance with my shoulders, and shaking my shoulders, or whatever. And later, I became teammates with him as well. Been a long time, but the ride, I would never complain about one moment of it.”

 

(on how he would describe Jim Harbaugh as a teammate) “I think he was exactly how he is as a coach. He is kind of straightforward. He is a hard worker. He understands what he wants to get done. And when he comes in to get it done, he is going to do everything he has in his power to get it done. He is a very passionate person, but he always has purpose in what he is doing. That is what I remember most about Jim.”

 

(on quarterback Joe Flacco’s postseason) “Listen, I am a little biased when it comes to Joe, because you are talking about somebody who has, right now, the best playoff winning percentage ever in NFL history. So, this guy has been proven since day one. It’s never been one man that has won or lost the game. It’s always been a team that wins or loses a game. So, anytime you want me to talk about Joe Flacco, I am telling you that I am talking about a kid with every skill, every tool physically. This year, he took the next step in maturing as a man, and really understanding what a leader has to do. That’s why our offense is clicking the way it’s clicking, and that’s why Joe is playing the way Joe is playing.”

 

(on 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick) “He is one of those freakish athletes. If I had to compare him with someone, it would be Randall Cunningham, just by his style of play, and how they both slung the ball a certain way. Both of them are very long. He can run very, very well. A good athlete. You can tell he is a real good athlete. I am fond of the kid.”

 

(on how many teammates have tried to talk him into coming back next season) “I get it every day. The guys ask me, ‘Are you really going to walk away?’ I have so much to do, I really do. I have to go home and be a father to my kids, my community is definitely calling in many other ways. And I have run my course in the game. My ultimate was always to, with this core of men that I have, was to get back to a Super Bowl, and we are back. We’re here, and I always wanted to experience that with Ed (Reed), with a Terrell Suggs, with a Ray Rice, and with a Joe Flacco. I wanted to experience that with those guys, and now that I am here experiencing that with them, it’s awesome. But, the bottom line, like I told them, I’m here because I want them to feel what that confetti feels like. So, for me to feel that, listen, it’s real with me when I say, ‘I’m done,’ because coming back is a totally different thought process. I would rub a lot of people wrong, most importantly my kids. I don’t want to take them through that anymore.”

 

(on what the outpouring of support by people means to him) “I don’t know anybody, honestly, who has lived a perfect life. But, I have seen people who went through things before, and realistically, most of the time what happened when you find somebody goes through adversity, you really find out what their true character is. I think for me, people really now have taken time to find out who I am. They are really learning what my character is. My character is simply just to make this world a better place, to encourage people that, no matter what you are going through, it really isn’t about what you are going through; it’s your mindset while you are going through it. So, when you see all of the support that I am getting right now, I am in total awe of the respect people have for someone who has been through adversity, but found his way out and just really showing what my true character is and who I am as a person.”

 

(on what it was like to arrive in the Super Bowl city today in contrast to Super Bowl XXXV) “I can answer that kind of easy, because in 2000, I was more of a follower. This time, I am more of a leader. I had Shannon (Sharpe) leading the way the whole time, and really just following his lead, listening to Rod (Woodson), and I was up under their coattails. Now, coming back this time, it’s kind of different, because it’s always, ‘What are we going to do here? What’s going on here?’ So, now I come back as a leader this time, and so I think that is the biggest difference.”

 

(on if the hunger to win is any different than in 2000) “It’s hard not for the hunger to be different. I was young. I was 25 when I won my first Super Bowl. To be 37 and back with a chance at another one in my last year, there is no greater hunger that I have. I told my teammates this: I am going to give my teammates everything I have, not just on Sunday, but starting today. I am not going anywhere. I am sitting in my room, and I am studying, studying, studying, because I owe them something as a leader, and that is to have myself totally prepared. So, my hunger is probably off the charts right now.”

 

(on what the role of family is for him at this point of his life) “I think the beautiful part of coming back (to the Super Bowl) now, is that my youngest baby is 10 years old, and my oldest son is 17. Now, I get all of my kids to be here, my mom will be here, my dad will be here, so I complete it now. Everything is complete now. My entire family will be here actually watching this game, outside of my grandmother, who is very ill. But, my entire family will be here. Anytime you can finish a career with your whole family right there by your side, I think that is the way you should always do it. There is no greater reward than the relationship I have with my father right now, and the things we went through when I was younger. For me and him to look at each other, I just need to hear his voice sometimes. I need to hear him tell me a joke, or whatever it is. For us to be together this week, it is going to be an awesome time.”

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