Ray Lewis past, present and future: Celebrating the Ray of today

October 28, 2010 | Nestor Aparicio

won two on the way out the door in Denver that cemented his first-ballot legend status in Canton, Ohio.

Ray Lewis is already in the Hall of Fame. Ray Lewis already has a Super Bowl ring. Now, it’s just about what he’s going to do to ice the bronze on the bust and pad the record books and solidify in the minds of everyone in the football universe that they better not even think about talking about Lawrence Taylor or Mike Singletary or Dick Butkus without talking about HIM first.

And by a wide margin. Think about what Jerry Rice, Brett Favre, Rod Woodson and Deion Sanders all accomplished after they were considering “washed up” by the media and/or fans. We should hope that we never have to watch Ray Lewis play a snap in another NFL uniform but the four aforementioned first-ballot Hall of Famers all made multiple stops after their Canton-card was punched.

Quitting just isn’t going to happen. It’s not in the Ray Lewis DNA.

It’s just who Ray Lewis is – the same guy who reported to Owings Mills in 1996 and asked “What’s the record?” when it came time to do pull-ups.

I do, however, do business all over town every day of my life and Ray’s name always surfaces but in more of a mystical fashion locally than “man about town” or “local entrepreneur.” Let’s be honest, Ray Lewis isn’t spotted around Baltimore very often these days and that’s probably not the worst thing in the world. And just from the looks of him you have to believe he’s spending 20 hours a week in the gym year-round as a starting point to his obligations.

But he’s in a rarefied place right now with the way that he’s rehabilitated his image and far exceeded his shelf life in the NFL and put himself of a fast-track for post-football life. Nowhere has his star risen more unexpectedly and shined more brightly than here in Baltimore the last few years as Ray seems to be “living on borrowed time.” Linebackers who play with his reckless, rugged style don’t play 16 years in the NFL anymore.

Nothing has been more transcendent than his relationship with corporate sponsors, both locally and now in the arena of doing Old Spice commercials:

Apparently, he has truly been given a second chance by the world. And that’s kind of neat because I think he deserves it and has earned it. I’m not sure that every national sponsor would want to work with Ray Lewis but the last 10 years have done nothing more than put him in the appropriate light for any future endeavors.

Imagine if Atlanta never happened? Of course, maybe there’s a part of that whole experience that has made Ray Lewis the person