Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis announced Wednesday that after 17 seasons in the NFL he will retire after the conclusion of the playoffs.
"It is time for me to create a new legacy."
"I talked to my team today," Lewis said Wednesday. "I talked to them about life in general. And everything that starts has an end. For me, today, I told my team that this will be my last ride."
Lewis is planning to play Sunday for the first time since tearing his triceps two months ago. The Ravens host the Indianapolis Colts in one of two AFC wild-card games.
Sunday will likely be the last time Lewis will play in Baltimore as they are the No. 4 playoff seed.
"I think my fans, my city, I think they deserved for me to just not walk away," he said. "We all get to enjoy what Sunday will feel like, knowing that this will be the last time 52 plays in a uniform in Ravens stadium."
Lewis has been named Defensive Player of the Year twice, been to 12 Pro Bowls, and named first-team All-Pro seven times.
"I never played the game for individual stats. I only played the game to make my team a better team," he said.
Lewis decided spending more time with his two sons meant more than continuing his NFL career.
"God is calling," Lewis said. "My children have made the ultimate sacrifice for their father for 17 years. I don't want to see them do that no more. I've done what I wanted to do in this business, and now it's my turn to give them something back."
"It's either hold on to the game and keep playing and let my kids miss out on times we can be spending together," Lewis said. "Because I always promised my son if he got a full ride on scholarship, Daddy is going to be there. I can't miss that."
His son Ray Lewis III will be a freshman at his alma mater, the University of Miami.