Ravens special teams ace and team leader Anthony Levine Sr. announced Wednesday that he is retiring after a decade-long run in Baltimore.
The 34-year-old veteran has long been known as "Co-Cap" for his status as captain of the Ravens' premier special teams unit. It's been a nickname he's carried with honor as a highly respected and highly effective player in Baltimore.
"Tough, smart, persistent and dependable, Anthony represents the very best of what it means to be a Raven. A relentless competitor and man of high character, Anthony poured every part of himself into the team," Head Coach John Harbaugh stated.
"He worked tirelessly to become one of the NFL's best special teams players, and he could always be relied upon to contribute at a high level on defense – no matter the role he was asked to play. Most importantly, Anthony is a terrific leader of men and someone who helped his teammates become the very best versions of themselves. It's been a privilege to coach Anthony for the past 10 years, and I am grateful to forever call him a friend."
Levine's NFL story is a great one with lessons that he's imparted on the many young Ravens players he's taken under his wing.
He entered the league as an undrafted rookie out of Tennessee State and spent his first two years on Green Bay's practice squad. Aaron Rodgers nicknamed the pesky scout team safety "Master of Disaster" because Levine kept defying coaches' assignments to make plays on the ball. While coaches chewed him out, Rodgers kept telling him to do it.
Levine told the Packers he wasn't going to join them for a third year on the practice squad in 2012, and instead bolted for Baltimore as soon as the Ravens called. He loved the idea of playing alongside Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.
But when Levine got to Baltimore, it soon became clear that his avenue to the field was going to be via special teams. So he adopted the role, put everything he had into it, and grew to love it. While others didn't want to do the dirty work, Levine volunteered for it.
"Special teams is one play, all-out. It's basically a free-for-all," Levine said. "It's your chance to go out and make an impact.
"It's just grit, grime, want-to, fast, and physical. Back then, when I ran down on kickoff, there was a four-man wedge. There were four 300-pound linemen back then. Nobody wanted to do that! I did the thing nobody else wanted to do."
349: Anthony Levine Sr. Joins The Lounge
Ravens special teams ace Anthony Levine Sr. talks about his retirement, reflects on his unique journey, and shares some of his favorite stories from a decade of playing in Baltimore.
Before long, Levine began to dominate it. He was shocked when he started getting notoriety, especially from opposing coaches and players, for the way he played the game. They were studying him.
"For 10 years, Anthony has terrorized opponents on the field," Ravens Special Teams Coordinator Chris Horton said. "He has earned the utmost respect of coaches and players around the league."
"Anthony Levine's stellar NFL career can be attributed to his unique combination of talents and stout heart," former Ravens Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg stated. "He has been the first man down the field on kickoff coverage for nearly a decade; he has blocked the opponent's best players on the return phases; and he has captained the punt team with a vigorous spirit."
Go back through a decade of memories with special teams 'Co-Cap' Anthony Levine Sr., both on and off the field.
Levine wasn't just a special teams player either. He was also a Swiss-Army knife in Baltimore's defense who filled multiple roles and could be counted on in a pinch. Levine played safety, nickel, dime and linebacker, with particularly essential defensive roles in 2017 and 2018.
He helped seal the Ravens' AFC North title in 2018 with two pass breakups on Baker Mayfield throws intended for tight end David Njoku on the Browns' final offensive drive, just as they were on the cusp of a game-winning field-goal attempt. C.J. Mosley capped it with an interception on a fourth-down pass. That memory, as well as picking off Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to seal a win in Pittsburgh, are two that stand out most for Levine over his career.
The Ravens have been one of the league's best special teams units for a long time in part because of the dedication and performance of Levine. He used to be surrounded by other players his age, such as the other captain of the "Co-Cap" in linebacker Albert McClellan.
But as the years have gone on, Levine has become the sage in the room, bringing along younger players looking to make their way in the league. He's provided not only tutorials on the football field, but lessons off it.
Now Levine will step away from the game to spend more time with his family, knowing he made a wide impact. But he won't go far.
The Ravens announced that Levine will transition into a scouting and coaching assistant role for the Ravens in 2022.
"Anthony retires with my enduring respect, gratitude and love," Rosburg said.
"Anthony is a forever Raven, as selfless as they come," General Manager Eric DeCosta stated. "We wish him the very best in his retirement as a player and can't wait to see what challenges he takes on next."