One of the greatest, if not the greatest, linebacker of all time is retiring from the NFL.
Ray Lewis decided yesterday, as he prepares for Wildcard weekend against the Indianapolis Colts, that this would be his last year to put on a football uniform.
From 1999 till 2001, the Ravens and the Titans created a rivalry that looked like it was going to be great for years to come. Realignment in 2002 shifted Tennessee to the AFC South and pushed Baltimore to the North so playing twice each year would be out of the question.
But during those three years, the games that were played were unforgettable.
“For so many years, I played against the Titans," Lewis said. "There was nothing like that rivalry. We used to have kind of like the same rivalry that we have with Pittsburgh now. And to have Eddie George and, rest in peace, Steve McNair, and all those guys back then, it was just two heck of a teams going at it. And we always knew that one of us was going to be there at the end of the day. You know, 1999, they went to the Super Bowl. [In] 2000, we came back and went to the Super Bowl, but it was always a dog fight between us two."
Not a great memory for Titans fans but described in a perfect way from an outstanding linebacker.
But Tennessee got redemption in 2003. After going 13-3 that year, the Titans knocked Lewis and the Ravens out of the playoffs, 20-17, in the wildcard divisional round.
The two met once more in the post season during 2008. Baltimore ended up advancing off of some costly turnovers by tight end Alge Crumpler and running back Lendale White, but fullback Ahmard Hall remembers Ray Lewis more than any other player from that particular game.
A great rivalry that could have been so much more.
The Titans and Ravens had their fun but as Lewis makes his departure in the coming weeks, there is no doubt that fans all across the country recognize him as one of the greatest defensive players to ever play the game.
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photo courtesy of Baltimorebeatdown.com