In many ways we don’t want to even think about it. Yet there’s no avoiding it – today is the day. This will be Ray Lewis’ swan song in a Baltimore Ravens uniform.
And they say that this is his last dance.
When Ray made the announcement prior to the Wild Card Playoff Game against the Colts that this would be his “last ride”, we weren’t quite sure when the ride would end. But today, win or lose, the final stop is New Orleans in Super Bowl XLVII.
For the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, we’ve heard a slew of hate directed at Ray.
“He’s not what he used to be!”
“It’s all about him!”
“He’s a cheater!”
“His devout faith is a façade.”
“He’s a phony.”
“He’s a murderer!”
You’ve heard it all too and I know it infuriates you. But those are the perceptions of many outside of Baltimore. Maybe time will tame them. Maybe not.
And if time doesn’t cure these grossly inaccurate perceptions of Ray, perhaps the best thing to do is ignore them. Why argue with ignorant fools? At the end of the day, doing so reduces you to fool status as well.
Instead, feel enlightened knowing the truth for as they it will set you free.
Be inspired by his words, his faith, his leadership and work ethic. Those things are real and you know this. Pity those who don’t and need to wrap their envy with words of hate. They just want what you and I have, what we’ve enjoyed for 17 seasons.
Today, when the final gun sounds and the game has ended, so too will an era. We’ve never known the Baltimore Ravens without No. 52 but soon we will have no choice.
The torch will be passed. His ample shoes will be hard to fill.
But we move on, we learn and we grow. Just like Ray’s teammates.
How will the story end? We all want to know.
It seems only fitting that Ray will win another ring and sail off into the sunset as a champion. It just feels like our time.
But either way, Ray Lewis will always be a champion. More than any single individual on the planet, he re-established Baltimore as a relevant NFL city. And the organization that has taken shape around Ray has the staying power to carry on successfully without him.
But that doesn’t make “goodbye” any easier.
Win or lose tonight tears will be shed.
Some will clamor for Ray to remain within the organization as a coach or in the front office. But Ray’s wings are too bright and vibrant and they shouldn’t be kept in a cage. He has the ability to affect so many people in the world. Perhaps even some of the clowns spewing hate his way.
So why selfishly keep him in our little closet?
Go Ray. Share with the world what you’ve shared with us.
Thank you for coming along. You’ve inspired me to be a better man and I pray that you can affect those outside of Baltimore similarly.
This song is over.
But your dance really doesn’t have to end.
And I hope it doesn’t.