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Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis definitively ended the speculation himself. Nobody even had to ask.
No, he’s not retiring in the wake of the Ravens’ painful 23-20 loss to the Patriots in the AFC championship.
“I’m hungry again. I’m thirsty again,” he said. “Is this my last time as a Raven? Absolutely not.”
This was Lewis’ 16th season of his decorated career. He’s the only player on the team that was part of the Ravens’ 2000 Super Bowl.
Before the game, there was speculation that he could call it quits if he got a second ring.
But after coming so close, yet not getting a chance to get back to that stage, Lewis wants another shot.
“Life, it offers too much,” he said. “Every time you step on this field is a true blessing, so you can just have an opportunity to do what we’re trying to do. We didn’t do it, we didn’t do it. That’s it.”
Lewis assumed his leadership position in a stunned Ravens locker room immediately.
After tying safety Bernard Pollard for a team-high 12 tackles, Lewis gave the postgame speech.
“We’ve got to keep moving, keep building, keep building, keep building,” Lewis said. “Remember this taste no matter how many times you go through it because when you finally get it, you appreciate it more.”
Linebacker Terrell Suggs stood next to Lewis as he told the media he wouldn’t retire. It was something Lewis didn’t talk about during the regular season, saying it would be unfair to look at that while he was playing.
Suggs was relieved to hear Lewis break the news.
“That makes me feel a lot better,” Suggs said. “There are things going through my mind right now. We all know the locker room is not going to look the same. It never does. We’re all disappointed we don’t have one more game for this team to play together.”
While Lewis will be back, the same cannot be guaranteed for center Matt Birk. The 14-year veteran, 35, pondered retirement after falling in the playoffs last year and ended up coming back.
After this year’s loss, Birk put out a similar statement.
“We’ll see. We’ll see,” he said. “This one will sting a little bit. I’ll just take time, get away for a little bit and make that decision with my family.”