Lewis calls this season his last

McClatchy news servicesJanuary 3, 2013 

Ray Lewis spent 17 seasons instilling fear in his opponents while serving as an inspirational leader for the Baltimore Ravens.

Now he’s poised and eager to become a full-time dad.

Lewis announced Wednesday he will end his brilliant NFL career after the Ravens complete their 2013 playoff run.

Lewis has been sidelined since Oct. 14 with a torn right triceps. The 13-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker intends to return Sunday to face the Indianapolis Colts in what will almost certainly be his final home game.

“Everything that starts has an end,” the 37-year-old Lewis said. “For me, today, I told my team that this will be my last ride.”

Lewis will walk away from the game because he wants to spend more time with his sons. While working to return from his injury, Lewis watched two of his boys play on the same high school football team in Florida. He intends to see Ray Lewis III perform as a freshman next season for the University of Miami, where the elder Lewis starred before the Ravens selected him in the first round of the 1996 draft.

“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.”

Drafted by the Ravens in 1996, Lewis was the AP Defensive Player of the Year in 2000 – the same season he was voted Super Bowl MVP following Baltimore’s 34-7 rout of the New York Giants. Lewis was also Defensive Player of the Year in 2003, and is the only player in NFL history with at least 40 career sacks and 30 interceptions.

He is the key figure in a defense that has long carried a reputation for being fierce, unyielding and downright nasty. He led the Ravens in tackles in 14 of his 17 seasons, the exceptions being those years in which he missed significant time with injuries (2002, 2005, 2012).

“I’ll make this last run with this team, and I’ll give them everything I’ve got,” he said. “When it ends, it ends. But I didn’t come back for it to end in the first round.”

BROWNS WANT KELLY

Oregon’s Chip Kelly appears to be near the top of the Cleveland Browns’ coaching wish list.

According to several reports, Cleveland CEO Joe Banner was in Arizona and intends to interview Kelly, who is preparing the Ducks to play in today’s Fiesta Bowl. Kelly has been courted by NFL teams in the past and came close to taking Tampa Bay’s job a year ago. Kelly has deflected questions about a possible jump to the pros, saying he’s focused on finishing his fourth season at Oregon.

Kelly’s fast-paced offensive system is intriguing to the Browns, who fired Pat Shurmur earlier this week. New England coach Bill Belichick consulted Kelly this summer and has incorporated aspects of Oregon’s up-tempo game into the Patriots offense.

HORTON HEARS FROM BILLS

First, Ken Whisenhunt, now Ray Horton. The Buffalo Bills’ coaching search stayed in Arizona for at least one more day.

Horton, defensive coordinator of the Cardinals, told reporters at the team’s facility that he was scheduled to interview with the Bills later in the day. Horton, a former Mount Tahoma High and University of Washington standout, is already a serious candidate to take over in Arizona, after the Cardinals fired Whisenhunt on Monday, and has also interviewed for the Cleveland Browns’ vacancy.

“I’m excited about the opportunity here, and the fantastic interview I had with Cleveland last night, and am going to try to knock Buffalo’s socks off,” Horton said.

CHIEFS INTERVIEW REID

Before he hopped a flight to Arizona for a meeting with the Cardinals, Andy Reid met with the Kansas City Chiefs to interview for their vacant head coaching spot, NFL sources said.

The former Eagles coach sat down with Chiefs owner Clark Hunt, team president Mark Donovan – an Eagles executive from 2003-09 – and general manager Scott Pioli in Philadelphia for an extended discussion, a source said.

Reid is scheduled to meet with the Cardinals today.

LEAGUE LOOKING AT JETS

The New York Jets have violated the NFL’s media policy by not making coach Rex Ryan or other team executives available within a week of the end of the regular season. The Professional Football Writers of America lodged a complaint, and the league said it is looking into it.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello would not speculate what punishment the team could get for the violation.

EXTRA POINTS

Falcons coach Mike Smith said offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, whose named has been linked to head coaching vacancies in Cleveland, Kansas City and Philadelphia, has signed a contract extension to stay with the team through next season. … The St. Louis Rams will not renew the contract of linebackers coach Blake Williams, son of suspended defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Blake Williams just completed his first season with the Rams after three years as a defensive assistant with the Saints.

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