Ray Lewis past, present and future: Will he be a Ray of Light in the future?

October 28, 2010 | Nestor Aparicio

for another championship. After all, 10 years into this post-championship era the town is itching to paint itself purple again in January and go on the magic carpet ride of the postseason all the way to Dallas and back down Pratt Street for another Purple Reign parade.

Do you remember that parade? And its sense of community? And the civic joy?

I still see that spirit every Sunday when I walk through the tailgate lots and see people from all ethnicity and backgrounds come together and become “purple” for a day.

Purple, just like Ray Lewis.

Consider today’s third and final part a trippy look into the crystal ball of the future for where Ray Lewis might be going next in his life. He can’t play football forever and even Clark Kent gave it all up for Lois Lane in the end.

This is Ray Lewis’ 15th season. This is the Ravens’ 15th season. At some point there will be a Ravens without No. 52 on the field and we’ll all come to grips with that then. And I’m not sure given his background and history he’ll receive the kind of emotional goodbye that Cal Ripken received here not only in 1995 for the 2131 drama but even beyond onto Cooperstown.

But Ray Lewis has become Baltimore’s biggest sports hero of this generation and I’ll leave it to people smarter than me to discuss his relevance on the field against any of the local giants – from Michael Phelps to Cal Ripken, from Brooks Robinson to Johnny Unitas. But much like that “greatest NFL player” denotation (which Jim Brown might never relinquish) his name is there in the discussion and that’s hard to argue.

As a matter of comparison, no one will EVER confuse Cal Ripken or Brooks Robinson with being the greatest player EVER in baseball. Ray Lewis will be in that conversation for football, especially if a Super Bowl in the autumn of his career comes along in the next few months or years.

Ray Lewis has grown immensely in so many ways and if there’s any thesis to this mini-series it’s been his complexity and in some cases unpredictability in dealing with various parts of his busy life. But when No. 52 gets into his comfort zone it’s a pretty good place to be these days and to watch him when he’s joyous is fun for everyone.

Ask anyone directly around him what kind of person he’s become