Ray Lewis On Tom Brady And His Legacy

Baltimore ravens linebacker Ray Lewis spoke with the media Wednesday about the New England Patriots, Tom Brady and his career coming to a close.

On if everything is starting to come together since he has come back:
“I just think, going back to last year, we made up our mind at the end of the year that that wasn’t it for us. That’s just kind of how the seasons go. That’s kind of how things go. For us to be back here again, same position, same situation, who would have ever thought of it but us? Would we have wanted the opposite? Why wouldn’t you? The bottom line is the cards were dealt a certain way, so we’re back here. My job as a leader and just being back here is to just always keep the guys focused, always keep the guys’ eyes on the real prize, and that’s each other. That’s each other, because if we keep our eyes on each other, then everything else – no matter what comes at us – we’ll be OK.”

On how much he has been able to “knock off the rust” since returning:
“When you’ve been doing something as long as I’ve been doing it, there is no such thing as ‘knock off the rust.’ It’s kind of like just coming back in and just getting back in the football movements and things like that. I was doing that the whole time that I was off. I was doing a lot of just specific football training and things like that. Even when I came back, before I even got back to actually playing against the Colts, I came back and ran a bunch of scout team and really got after our offense, got after Joe [Flacco] and started to mess with them a lot. So, once you kind of get into that, the only thing else left is just tackling somebody to the ground.”

On how he feels like he is playing the run and pass:
“I love the game of football anytime my defense is playing well. Anybody who has been around me long enough knows that I am the last person to talk about myself. My No. 1 job is to put my defense in position to win. For us to do the things that we’ve been doing … The whole year has been kind of a roller coaster because of the injuries, and the first time me and Ed [Reed] and ‘Sizzle’ [Terrell Suggs] actually played together this year was the Colts game. So, there are so many things that we had to fight through all year. But, for us to fight through it and be where we are now, I think collectively as a group, we’re really starting to dial things in.”

On if he recalls another game that was physically as taxing as the game against the Broncos:
“No, you know why? Because it was just one of those games. You get into that type of groove and both teams are making plays here and there, and we’re going back and forth, and it was just one of those games that once you find yourself in … One game that kind of brings back the memory is probably when we went to Adelphia Coliseum [in 2000]. [It] reminds me a lot – the Tennessee Titans that year – it was just a very, very physical game up and down the field. If you remember that game, crazy things happened in that game, too – a blocked field goal and things like that. So, for the Denver game, to kind of play out, if I was remembering one game, it would probably be that game.”

On if he feels that this team is a “team of destiny”:
“You know what? At the end of the day, like I always tell them, there will be one team that holds the Lombardi Trophy, and that will be the ultimate team of destiny for this year. And whatever race we have to run, we’re going to run our race. But, I think the thing that [Ray Rice] is speaking about, when you do hear him speak about it, is how we kept fighting, how we kept keeping each other up and no matter who got hurt, next man up, next man up. And that’s kind of the staple that we’ve had around here for a very, very long time. It’s always next man up, and for us to fight through all the bumps in the roads that we have went through all year, I just think that’s an awesome, awesome credit to our team.”

On if he feels the same as DT Haloti Ngata in wanting to have another opportunity to play New England in this game:
“I mean, if you write it up, there’s no better way to write it up. We all felt the same way leaving there last year, that we had an opportunity to win that game. What better way to go back? If you were going to go to the Super Bowl, then to go back and go back at New England again. We know each other very well. I heard coach [John Harbaugh] speak about it, and every game we play is always those classic games. It comes down to that last play, that last drive. I think they know what we are bringing, and we know what they bring. And for us, we have lot to deal with. We’re probably talking about, arguably, probably the best offense in football, probably the best quarterback, give or take. Coming from Peyton [Manning] from last week to now [Tom] Brady this week … So you’re talking about the top, and anytime you’re talking about the top, if you’re going to go win a ring, then why not go through the top?”

On what it is like to have a chance to do something about the way last season ended:
“That’s the irony of sports. Everybody feels that way. Every team comes in every year saying, ‘Can we do it? Can we do it? Can we do it?’ And for us, we’ve had glimpses of a field goal missed, a fumble here, a dropped catch, whatever it is. And now, we have that opportunity again. I think you kind of … Ray [Rice] has been messing with me all day, but I’ve just been in this calm state because at the end of the day, nothing matters unless we’re going to win in New England this weekend. Then we’re back to the same position we were in last year.”

On if he has given any thought to not retiring at the end of this season:
“No. No, I knew, probably one of the reasons in my entire career I never spoke about it, but I always said to myself, I would know when it’s time. And I knew that every sacrifice I made from the time I hurt myself was to get back with my team to make one last push. Because you look at the Rays [Rice], you look at the Joes [Flacco], and I told them, ‘Everything I am giving you is so your career can go on.’ One day, my career is definitely going to end, and for the ride to keep going the way it’s going, it’s just awesome. I just never slowed down to really think about, ‘Will you come back?’ ‘No, I can’t come back.’ My kids are calling for daddy. It’s a great reward to see the sacrifice my babies have made for me, and it’s time that I sacrifice for them. I’m proud that the ride is still going. I look at my teammates, and after the Denver game, me and Ray just sat there, and we hugged on the field. He grabbed me kind of hard. I was kind of telling him to let me go, but it’s just something that is just special. To end it, whenever it ends, then so be it.”

On the impact that he has had on the City of Baltimore:
“Who knew that famous phone call that I still joke around with [general manager and executive vice president] Ozzie Newsome to this day [would mean so much]. In 1996 when they drafted me, the first thing I asked was, ‘Do we have a team name? What are our jersey colors going to be and all that?’ Who knew that I would be a staple in Baltimore? But, it’s been my passion my entire career to really not just be a football player. Football is my job – that’s all it is. But, it’s a burning passion inside of me to take what I do on the field and take it off the field. Off the field, it’s just impacting lives, because at the end of the day, all of our eyes will close one day. When they do, my only job is to hear those two famous words from God himself, and that’s, ‘Well done.’ Success is one thing; I’ve always believed impact is another. To go out in the communities and change someone’s life, for real change their life, I believe that’s what all of our jobs should be one day. It’s not to compete against nobody in this. It’s not to make somebody feel bad or make somebody re-live this or re-live that. It’s to teach someone how to move forward. No matter what you go through in life, you have to find out a different way how to move forward. That’s what I believe, as people, we have to get back to, and that’s what my city has started to revolve [around] and started to understand that. That’s what my foundation is built for. How can we truly teach people what impact should be? I’ll die that way.”

On what they do to counteract the Patriots’ hurry-up, no-huddle offense:
“For that, you’ve got to make the tackle. They are big into getting people out of position, and you watch the Houston game last week, a huge example of how they can confuse you and get you to line up not right, and then a touchdown is too easy. In a game of that magnitude, you have to be able to look at them and say, ‘Come play football.’ Because if they can get you out of position … I mean, anybody is going to do that. Defenses, we draw up schemes to get people out of position and things. So, anytime you get that type of offense, you’ve got to be ready to play every play like it’s your last play.”

On why he’s setting the expectation to remain in a calm state this week as a team:
“Because it’s simple: We’ve been there before. It’s something else if you haven’t been there. If we’re this new team coming back and saying, ‘Hey man, this is our first time. Yeah, we’re happy, we’re successful.’ You only play for a ring, and I’ve been there before. I’ve been there before. That’s why everything else – cameras – they’re great, but my mind is in a totally different place. And that’s where as the week progresses, all my teammates’ minds go in that state, because that’s the team we’re going to play. These guys have been champions many times, and for us to understand that, we’ve got to understand what it’s going to take to go up there and win in New England.”

On if he remembers that image of himself in the locker room after losing in the AFC Championship last year and telling his team they’d be back:
“Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely, because there was so much more surrounded around it. Just quickly: I missed an opportunity to see a young man go to heaven, because my head was stuck in film [before the New England game last year]. I missed that opportunity to watch that kid go home. That still lingers with me. And just remembering that is what I tried to tell my team to remember: ‘Don’t let this game ever dictate your emotions. When we walk out of this locker room, somebody is looking for you to be the bigger person.’ Yeah, we lost the game, but it isn’t life. It’s not life. And that’s the irony of sports: If there’s a winner, there has to be a loser. Just like this whole weekend – four teams in it – two will walk out. That’s the beauty of our sport. But there’s a straight focus that you have to have, you have to have, to go win in a hostile environment against a very, very qualified team who has done it many times.”

On who the guy was that held a leadership role for him when he was a younger player in his first playoff run:
“That isn’t hard, because I had a lot of them. But I think two that meant so much to me were probably Shannon Sharpe and Rod Woodson. Probably Shannon, because he had done it already. Rod, because he hadn’t done it, and had one of the greatest careers I’ve probably ever seen an athlete have – somebody I have the utmost respect for as a man. And to look in his eyes, to know how he wanted to touch that Lombardi [Trophy] together, and then to listen to Shannon to tell him how calm you had to be and how prepared you had to be to go in … Because we had to go on the road – after we beat Denver – we had to go on the road to win in Tennessee and then go win in Oakland. And for him to teach me how you had to have your mind totally dialed in, it meant everything to me, because then I knew once we felt that confetti, I knew what it meant then, I knew what it felt like. All of the sacrifices that I had been through, I then understood why I sacrificed everything I sacrificed, and it was because of the leadership that they gave me.”

Source: Baltimore Ravens Media