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Ray Lewis to Retire Following Playoffs

This seemed like a good possibility after his triceps injury earlier this season, but today Ray Lewis made it official: He will retire after the playoffs, no matter how far the Baltimore Ravens make it. Some players may have been a little better at their peak, but for sustained greatness over a long period, it's hard to argue against the idea that Lewis is the greatest linebacker in NFL history. He's been considered "overrated" for so long that he's actually been underrated for quite some time.

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49 comments, Last at 05 Jan 2013, 2:38pm

1 Re: Ray Lewis to Retire Following Playoffs

He was good. Goodnplayer. Was MVP SB 35. Will ebe first ballot hall fo famer. Could argue was best inside lijebacker all time. Others to consider J. Schmidt, d. Butkus, willie lanier.

2 Re: Ray Lewis to Retire Following Playoffs

Used to keep extra record s and notes in Yahoo mail notepad but Yahoo new mail system now and have no ides what happened to the notepad. A shame

In there had list of ravebz record year by her when Lewis play and when not play. Not tsurprisring tema better record with him than without.

3 Re: Ray Lewis to Retire Following Playoffs

I wonder if he'll want to get into coaching. Given the respect he commands and his obvious intelligence on the field, he would certainly make a hell of a LB coach. And, despite the counterexample of Mike Singletary, maybe a lot more than that.

5 Re: Ray Lewis to Retire Following Playoffs

My theory is that the true greats, the naturals like Jordan and Gretzky, are so gifted that they don't make great coaches as they can't convey what they need to to 95% of their charges. People who worked like dogs (not that the naturals didn't work) to make the squad, to improve themselves, to finally master their craft, tend to make better coaches because they better understand the process of improvement, the steps it takes to grow, work with teammates, adapt. The geniuses were so gifted so early and so long that wherever they went (peewee, HS, coll, pros), the coaches and teams adapted to THEM, designed their schemes around their best player, etc.

Another view: I forget who recently said (Dungy maybe) that Peyton Manning would make a terrible coach because his demands and expectations would be crushing if his pupil was not a Manning clone. He'd be frustrated, the guys he's coaching would cry, cats and dogs living together... nobody would be happy.

I am sure there are exceptions--Dan Gable being one in collegiate/olympic wrestling, but wrestliers are a different breed.

12 Re: Ray Lewis to Retire Following Playoffs

True on the summer QB academy, but that's a different context than leading a team through a season. He probably maps out the dozen things he wants to show them, drills them, and they go home after a few days. There's no real consequence (from Manning) if the kids throw four picks in game six of their next season, or never master the skill of identifying a safety blitz.

The mental aspect of Manning AND Lewis, both of whom are renowned film studiers and workaholics, is probably a transferrable skill. And both command great respect. But whoever said it about Manning knew him (his dad? Polian? I hate that I can't recall it).

And regarding physical tools, keep in mind that you are comparing him to maybe 30-50 other individuals on the planet. Up until maybe his second year at college he probably never even saw anybody his age who could do what he could, physically, and at his prime, there aren't many who could. No he could never throw 60 yards from his knees, but he is and always has been an elite, elite athlete. (That goes for most of these guys, even the 350 lb DTs who can out-vertical leap most of us and out-sprint us for 20 yards. Well, make that ten.)

When I was a HS wrestler and later a part-time coach, it was amazing how the gifted kids generally did not and could not analyze why and where a foot or leg or arm had to be placed in order for a move to work right--they just knew intuitively. There was no alternative and therefore they could never really teach kids who didn't get it instinctively. They could demonstrate something a hundred times, but never attached "learning hooks" to it so the non-gifted could pick it up except by much frustrating trial and error. You could ask "why do you do it that way?" and the answer would be either "I don;t know" or "it works."

28 Re: Ray Lewis to Retire Following Playoffs

I'll go on record predicting Peyton Manning will pursue coaching shortly after retiring. I came to this conclusion after observing him on the sidelines while he was injured last year. I attended every home Colts game and spent most of my time fascinated by watching Peyton. To begin with, he was extremely focused on the game, which is unusual for most injured players. Most of the injured guys just wonder the sidelines aimlessly, chewing tobacco and looking into the stands. Not Peyton. He was living and dying with each play. He watched most of the plays hunched over, hands on knees, as if he were getting ready for the snap. It was intense.

Secondly, he was very active in conversations with the OC while the Colts were on on offense. He would yell out defensive formations as the playclock wound down, and was actively involved in discussions with the OC and QB during timeouts. He also had animated discussions with the entire offense several times during the game.

On the surface, none of this is that enlightening. However, it was Peyton's intensity during the game that was shocking. It was clear he cared just as much about the game even though the Colts were 1-13 and he had no chance of playing.
I came away thinking football, and the competitive juices that it creates, are simply in Peyton's blood. Neither the broadcast booth, nor commercials, will satisfy this need for competition.

15 Re: Ray Lewis to Retire Following Playoffs

Hosting ("running" is probably a stretch) a week-long camp for 9th-graders is not exactly analogous to being an NFL coach. If Peyton Manning were put in charge of developing someone like Mark Sanchez, I'd bet the situation would resemble Michael Jordan's tutelage of Kwame Brown.

37 Re: Ray Lewis to Retire Following Playoffs

Well maybe call it "hand/eye coordination" then... I definitely would call it a physical tool. Hmm... off the top of my head trying to list things that are physical tools for QBs in my book :

Overall strength
Arm strength
Release/throwing motion speed
Hand/eye coordination and mechanics
Foot speed, running and lateral
Peripheral vision/motion awareness
Overall body control (for throwing on the run, juking defenders, etc.)

I guess if you want to talk about the things that are more genetic and less learnable (or changeable), it would probably be just height, maybe some amount of mechanics. And anything that comes naturally even if it is learnable could be included (naturally strong arm, for instance); But those things would vary by QB.

4 Re: Ray Lewis to Retire Following Playoffs

It's pretty easy to argue that Ray Lewis isn't the greatest linebacker in NFL history:

Lawrence Taylor.

Greatest interior linebacker? Probably.

6 Re: Ray Lewis to Retire Following Playoffs

Best LB ever? When did Junior Seau die? (oh yeah...)

More seriously, you could make a straight-faced argument that he's only the 5th best LB in Bears history. (George, Butkus, Urlacher, Singletary)

11 Re: Ray Lewis to Retire Following Playoffs

Urlacher's career feels pretty underrated these days, but it's no match for Ray Lewis's. And I personally feel Singletary was a bit overrated.

Bill George is hard to rate, but I'd be OK with calling him better than Lewis, on the basis of a pioneer bonus.

I think they go.

1. Butkus
2/3. Lewis, George
4. Urlacher
5. Singletary

And that's not accounting for MLBs that played on other teams.

16 Re: Ray Lewis to Retire Following Playoffs

I think Lewis is better than Urlacher, but I think they have had remarkably similar careers. Lewis gets a career longevity bonus, but they are nearly clones on the career arc and career discussion realms.

In all seriousness, Seau's career looks a lot like Lewis's, too.

PFR would have ranked them thusly:
1. Lewis
2. Singletary/George
4. Urlacher
4a. large gap
5. Butkus

Butkus had a short career and played on bad defenses. PFR has Singletary/George/Lewis as nearly a dead heat, with only Buonicoti, Schmidt, and Lambert in hailing distance.

22 Re: Ray Lewis to Retire Following Playoffs

I watched Mike Singletary's entire career. That dude was a beast. I can't fathom anyone who was around back then thinking he was overrated. Yeah, he was no great shakes as a coach, but that wasn't exactly a surprise, and it certainly doesn't change just how enormous his impact was on the game. That defense, and Singletary personally, intimidated opponents so severely that the Bears frequently had already won the game before it even started. Opponents were scared to play them. Singletary is one of the few who lives up to the hype.

Yet having said all that, who would I rather have as my MLB? I'm taking Ray Lewis. He's that good.

40 Re: Ray Lewis to Retire Following Playoffs

Lewis and Urlacher may be clones in terms of the shape, but Lewis' curve is transposed up a little on the graph, from Urlacher's curve. I mean, Lewis is not better only because of longevity. He's also better in peak value.

As a Ravens fan, I always thought of Urlacher as a poor man's Ray Lewis. With more perspective now, I'd modify that to "an upper middle-class man's Ray", or even "a fairly well-off man's" Ray.

The thing about comparing defenders to Ray Lewis, which I didn't fully grasp 5 or 6 years ago, is that a player could be a noticeable step down from Ray Lewis – and still be a Hall of Famer. That might even be a functional definition of a defensive Hall of Famer: almost as good as Ray Lewis.

Maybe at 60% of Ray Lewis you're out of the Hall; and 80% you're clearly in; and 60-80% is the grey area. Or something like that.

9 Re: Ray Lewis to Retire Following Playoffs

Oh, and good timing Ray. You had a whole season to come up with this. Let's see, the Colts are emotionally high to win for Pagano, and pretty much everyone on earth finds their story inspiring (ragtag team of scruffy nerf-herders take on the evil empire in Yoda's name, or something like that) so the hometown fans and teammates get this little jolt of manufactured emotion from Lewis to carry them through the first game.

If they win, then Ed Reed will make some pronouncement (shave his beard if they win?) to motivate everyone, and to inspire them if they get to the AFCCG, Joe Flacco will promise to retire if they win that one.

13 Re: Ray Lewis to Retire Following Playoffs

It's not right to say that Lewis has "been considered 'overrated' for so long that he's actually been underrated for quite some time."

As far as I could tell, Lewis's reputation for being overrated came from around 2007-2011, when he was widely considered to be the league's best LB by mainstream analysts. He was still good in that time, but simply not among the league's very best, so sticklers like those who haunt FO wouldn't hesitate to call him "overrated."

Nevertheless, pointing out that fact doesn't at all imply that people thought his overall career was overrated, just that, in those particular seasons, NFL Network talking heads, gameday color commentators, and writers like Peter King were mindlessly attributing to him more credit than was warranted.

Besides, it seems to me that the "overrated" lashback has died out in the last year or two anyway as mainstreamers caught up to the reality. Does anyone actually dispute that Lewis is one of the game's greatest ILBs to play? I think there's nothing to see here.

29 Re: Ray Lewis to Retire Following Playoffs

Giuy was lovable motivator consideed by some before 2005 deginitely. Was more like 2002-03 when ot start . Tppk one year to shed murdering thug lable.
Remember 2004 Ravens at Eagles game T. Owens did R. lewis jerk dance in end zone afterr score TF.so you know Lewis rain dance popular with kids and media already by 2004

27 Re: Ray Lewis to Retire Following Playoffs

"As far as I could tell, Lewis's reputation for being overrated came from around 2007-2011, when he was widely considered to be the league's best LB by mainstream analysts. He was still good in that time, but simply not among the league's very best, so sticklers like those who haunt FO wouldn't hesitate to call him "overrated.""

See, you're proving his point though. Ray Lewis WAS among the league's very best over that entire time. He just wasn't head and shoulders above everyone else like at his peak.

35 Re: Ray Lewis to Retire Following Playoffs

No, I don't think he was among the very best. He hovered around (in and beyond) the top 10 or so LBs, depending on the year, which shouldn't even guarantee a Pro Bowl / All Pro roster spot. And even in some of his peak years he wasn't necessarily the best in the game.

18 Re: Ray Lewis to Retire Following Playoffs

Lewis and possibly Gonzalez. We might be seeing the end of two of the best to ever play in one go.
Have 2 players both candidates to be the best ever at their positions retired in the se year before?

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

39 Re: Ray Lewis to Retire Following Playoffs

It's hard to remember, now that we've lived thru the last ~5 years of Ray Lewis, the player that Ray-ray was circa 2000-2001. What we've seen recently is the master motivator and the intense film studier, with fantastic anticipation but only so-so speed, strong but not devastatingly powerful. That game-saving tackle in the 4th Q in San Diego a few years ago probably defines the upside of Ray Lewis for us; his ability to read a play and commit to it, and his sure tackling. His downside is defined in numerous recent highlights of him not-quite-getting to the runner, or not quite getting deep enough in coverage.

But ten or twelve years ago! The highlights of him from then are breathtaking. The same otherwordly anticipation, but he was also fast. He was everywhere. A little bigger then, I think; he hit with shocking power. The Ravens Super Bowl run is available as a DVD set on Amazon; it's worth watching sometime, just to watch a young Ray-ray run around and destroy people. He has the glorious arrogance of a young lion, or King Kong, or something. Lord of the jungle. It's tough to take your eyes off him. (Fast forward thru the sections where the Ravens are on offense.)

47 Re: Ray Lewis to Retire Following Playoffs

There was a ravens colts playoff game awhile ago. Perhaps around 2007 that ray was incredible as well. He and Ed Reed seemed like they were the only receivers Peyton was throwing too. I believe reed picked off a couple passes and Lewis and Reed collided on a couple other potential interceptions. Don't believe either team scored a Td that day.

41 Re: Ray Lewis to Retire Following Playoffs

I have watched Singletary, Lewis, Lambert and Urlacher play. Despite being a Steelers fan I would order them Lewis, Singletary, Lambert and Urlacher (and wouldn't object loudly to those who had Urlacher 3rd; it's a very different game these days than Lambert's).

Those are four all-time great MLBs, but Lewis' decline from football's Mount Olympus has been remarkably gentle, allowing him to sustain a remarkable level of play for an unbelievably long time.

49 Re: Ray Lewis to Retire Following Playoffs

I've only been watching football since the ravens came back to baltimore, and I live on the east coast so I just don't get to watch patrick willis or brian urlacher or demarcus ware as much as I might like, so I have what is a limited perspective. That being said, ray lewis was the most dominant defensive player i've ever seen.

There's a lot of guys who fall into the category of sustained excellence. Excellent just doesn't begin to describe ray lewis between 1996 (he led the nfl in tackles for loss as a rookie) and 2001 (a shoulder injury in 2002 clearly affected his power). He was an unstoppable force of nature who clearly terrified opponents. That several serious injuries reduced him from otherworldly to merely excellent for another half a decade is just amazing. That he hasn't been particularly dominant in a while (he is 37) is similar to complaining that jerry rice's 2nd decade in the nfl wasn't all that impressive compared to his first.