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Ray Lewis: “This will be my last ride”

Cleveland Browns v Baltimore Ravens

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 24: Ray Lewis #52 of the Baltimore Ravens is introduced before the game against the Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium on December 24. 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens lead the Browns 17-0 at the half. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)

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One of the greatest players in NFL history is preparing to hang it up after the playoffs.

Ray Lewis, the Ravens linebacker and future Pro Football Hall of Famer, said today that he plans to retire following this season. The Ravens open the playoffs on Sunday against the Colts, in what will likely be Lewis’s last game in Baltimore.

“This will be my last ride,” Lewis said.

The Ravens’ first-round pick in the 1996 NFL draft, Lewis has been chosen to 13 Pro Bowls, is a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and was the Super Bowl XXXV Most Valuable Player.

Lewis’s decision is no surprise: At age 37, he has already played far longer than most NFL linebackers, and this season has been a disappointment, with a torn triceps muscle causing him to miss 10 games. Lewis also said on ProFootballTalk Live in October that he wants to step away from the game in time to watch his son play at the University of Miami next season, and there’s already speculation that he’ll line up a post-NFL job at ESPN.

So while players sometimes change their minds about retirement, this doesn’t seem like a rash decision for Lewis. These playoffs will probably be the last opportunity for football fans to see one of the best linebackers ever to play the game.