Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 1/4/13

INDIANAPOLIS - JANUARY 16: Ray Lewis #52 of the Baltimore Ravens spits in the fourth quarter against the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Lucas Oli Stadium on January 16, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Colts defeated the Ravens 20-3. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Since his first season with the Baltimore Ravens in 1996, Ray Lewis has been it's biggest motivator and leader. He's won the NFL's defensive player of the year award twice, been to the Pro Bowl 13 times, and has a Super Bowl ring. Let's go back to that one fact: He has one Super Bowl ring. For many players in the National Football League or in any sport it's not enough. Not that it's not to say that Ray Lewis' career has been unfulfilled when he's had many personal achievements and is been called one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history, but when he announced this past Wednesday that this season would be the last of his 17 year career, it's clear he wants to end on top with a second Super Bowl trophy. But can his team do that? Now the offense is better than the one that won Super Bowl XXXV over the Giants. Joe Flacco has better throwing stats than Trent Dilfer in his super bowl winning season and they have Ray Rice to give them good yardage. The defense has always been good with Lewis as the emotional leader. It has evolved through the years with Tony Siragusa, Shannon Sharpe, and Terrell Suggs. But years of falling shorts of AFC North division titles and trips to the Super Bowl to the Pittsburgh Steelers have taken their toll. Although their long-time nemesis from the steel city missed the post season they still have to face emerging powers like the Indianapolis Colts who have rising star in Andrew Luck and their other division rivals and division champions: the Cincinnati Bengals. They also have to deal with a NFL playoff field that includes the Patriots (trying to win a forth Super Bowl title), the Broncos (with Peyton Manning looking to tie his brother with two rings), the Packers (with Aaron Rodgers and a growing running game), the Falcons (looking to give Tony Gonzalez a title at last), the Redskins (with the red-hot Robert Griffin III), and the Seahawks (with an emerging Russell Wilson and a stout defense). The 49ers, Texans, and (Adrian Peterson-led) Vikings complete a tough playoff field that makes this season's post-season the toughest in a long time. So for a team that had so may misses, the Ravens will have their hands full to try to give Lewis a second Super Bowl ring before he moves on to ESPN to join Berman, Jackson, Johnson, Ditka, and the rest of his new football gang at Bristol. But keep in mind that Lewis is not alone in being a part in franchises that have been called one-hit-wonders when it comes to winning one Super Bowl titles in many years. Joe Namath won only won Super Bowl but it was the upset over the Colts that put the Super Bowl on the map and solidified his status as a sports icon. Johnny Unitas had won only one ring but his illustrious all-around career still speaks for himself. The Ditka-led Bears won only one Super Bowl in 1985 but it's still one of the greatest team in memory. The 1969 Chiefs and 2002 Bucs are not far behind the discussion. the bottom line is that it's very tough to win in the National Football League year in and year out. The way the game is so physical and the demand it places it on the body takes a toll on player's career and for Ray Lewis he's more of the fortunate ones to last 17 years in the league. Regardless of what happens, Lewis will always be one of the most intimidating players in history even though his team failed so many times to meet expectations of being a dominant force. But with much of their roster near the peak of their careers, the Ravens want to give it their all to get to New Orleans and win. After all, Lewis says he doesn't care much for individual stats. He want to everything he can to win for his team. it will take more than him to do that in the playoffs but as he says in his emotional pre-game speeches "The time is now"!        
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