Let me start by declaring that I have been a HUGE fan of linebacker Ray Lewis since the Baltimore Ravens beat my New York Giants in the Super Bowl XXXV back in 2000. (you can read my 2012 ALDS story about my encounter with Ray here or my past post titled Rarefied Ray.)
To give you more of an idea of the adoration I have for this man, after watching the Ravens torch my Giants 43-7 the first thing I did was go on a manhunt to find an autographed picture of Lewis from that Super Bowl. And that would explain the framed, signed picture of Lewis hoisting up his Super Bowl MVP Trophy that still hangs on my wall today.
So you can imagine my panic yesterday when I overheard Ray Lewis on the radio in a taxicab announcing his retirement from the NFL following this season’s playoffs. I felt literally crushed.
Obviously I knew that after 17-seasons in the NFL his clock was ticking but it still didn’t change the fact that one of the most prolific and inspirational athletes of my time career was coming to a close.
Lewis is one of the very few athletes I define as rarefied air in sports due to the level of passion and authentic love for the game that is absolutely awe-inspiring. Not to mention Lewis’s unparalleled work ethic and God-like talent on the football field to go with it.
So it was no surprise that following his retirement announcement there was an immense outpour of overwhelming admiration from athletes and fans everywhere. Still in my mind there will never be enough ways to fully thank Ray Lewis. As in a sense, he took us on this improbable journey with him and it was truly amazing.
Now, I bet you are wondering how Ray Lewis’ retirement relates to Yankees Universe?
Well if you guessed that Hal “Scrooge” Steinbrenner personally sent Yankees GM Brain Cashman to Baltimore to sign Lewis to a one-year deal to play in the Bronx in 2013 you would be wrong.
Jeter is not as vocal, nor does he shake it quite like Lewis before every game but the Captain is as much of a leader.
People always ask me separately why I respect athletes like Ray Lewis and Derek Jeter so much?
On the field Lewis brings an attitude to fear in a city nicknamed the Crab Cake Capital of the World, while Jeter conveys a sense of graciousness to the Big Apple’s smug reputation.
The accomplishments of both these men on and off the field are endless.
For now, the bottom-line is I will be rooting for the Ravens in the playoffs this weekend and hopefully all the way to the Super Bowl because Ray Lewis deserves to go out like a true Champion. You can read more of my specific feelings on Ray Lewis HERE.
As for Jeter, well thank God he has five World Series rings already because thanks to Hal Scrooge-Brenner going out on top is now to expensive just like the Legends Seats.
Guess seeing Ray Lewis do this LIVE will have to be erased from the Bucket List that I haven’t written yet. Damn it.