Lewis Tells Sharpe When He'll Make Retirement Decision
Shannon Sharpe, one of Ray Lewis' best friends after winning a Super Bowl together, has spoken with the injured linebacker twice since he tore his triceps.
Sharpe talked to Lewis on Sunday night, and again on Monday night, hoping to console a dear friend after receiving devastating news.
According to the Hall of Fame tight end, per Jarrett Bell at USA Today, Lewis indicated that he won't make a decision on whether he will return for his 18th NFL season until after he goes through rehab&utm_content=ESPN). Lewis also wants to wait until after the season to make a decision out of respect to his teammates.
Per Sharpe: "He said, 'Right now, I need to stay positive for my team.'"
Lewis has yet to speak to the media since sustaining the injury, so Sharpe's insight is the closest thing outsiders can get to Lewis for now. Sharpe also explained what's going on in Lewis' mind.
At 5-1, the Ravens and tied with the Houston for the top spot in the AFC and Lewis being 37 years old with the end nearing, Sharpe thought Lewis would be feeling depressed about missing the rest of the season. Six weeks into the year, Baltimore's chances' of going to the Super Bowl are as good as, or better than, all the other AFC squads at this early point of the season.
Instead of finding a dejected Lewis on the other end of the line, Sharpe said he was pleasantly surprised to hear an upbeat and optimistic attitude.
"I was surprised by how good his spirits were," Sharpe told Bell yesterday. "I was expecting him to be down. When I broke my collarbone, I cried like a baby. That was not the case with him."
On Sunday night, when an MRI still had not confirmed the extent of the injury, Sharpe said Lewis seemed to already know what was in store.
"I'm like, 'Where's your head at?'
"He says, 'I'm good, bro.'"
Sharpe called back again Monday, after doctors confirmed Lewis' 17th season was over.
"He surprised me again, by how calm he was about what happened," Sharpe said. "He pretty much said, 'It happened, so I've got to deal with it.'"
In the past, Lewis has said he can't see himself playing past the age of 37 and wants to watch his son play football at the University of Miami when he becomes a freshman running back in 2013.
But ESPN's Stephen A. Smith, who spoke with Lewis just a few days before the injury occurred, said he is confident the legendary linebacker will “figure things out” and find a way to play and still watch his son play on Saturdays.
"This man is fixated on capturing his second Super Bowl championship," Smith said in the video below, noting that next year the offense will be that much better and Lewis will get to play with a healthy Terrell Suggs again.
"There's no way on earth Ray will retire.There's no way on earth he should retire in my estimation. He will be back and he will be back with a vengeance."
Financial Impact Of Ray Lewis In 2013
You'd be hard-pressed to find a respected pundit say he or she thinks Lewis will choose to retire. But the Ravens will have to consider the financial impact a 38 year old will have on their salary cap this offseason.
According to The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson, Lewis' $42.5 million contract runs through 2015 and is due a base salary of $5.4 million next season.
"So, if the Ravens were to cut Lewis or he retired after this season and they timed all of the acceleration of the remaining proration of his $6.25 million signing bonus, option bonus of $1.25 million and second option bonus of $2 million, they would realize a total salary-cap savings of $4.35 million for the 2013 NFL fiscal year with no future dead money," Wilson wrote.
"The time for these decisions isn't now, but after the season the Ravens' front office and coaching staff will have a lot to mull over involving Lewis."
Depth Chart Movement Confirms Next Men Up
While the Ravens depth chart is put together by the team's public relations department, Wilson took note of the many changes that have occurred this week, which may confirm who is taking over some starting roles.
Jameel McClain: starting middle (Mike) linebacker, taking over for Lewis
Dannell Ellerbe: starting weak (Will) linebacker, taking over for McClain
Jimmy Smith: Starting left cornerback, taking over for Lardarius Webb
Corey Graham: backup to starting corner Cary Williams, showing he's the likely nickel back
Bobbie Williams: starting left guard, taking over for Ramon Harewood (healthy)
Expectations Too High For Suggs?
Will Suggs be met with unrealistic expectations when he returns from an Achilles tendon injury?
In a column about it being gut-check time for the Ravens defense, ESPN's Jamison Hensley puts a tremendous amount of responsibility on Suggs, who is still recovering from one of the toughest injures in sports.
"The one hope for the Ravens' defense is the return of Suggs," Hensley wrote.
"The Ravens' defense used to be filled with Pro Bowl names. When Suggs is able to return, he may need a roster himself to identify his teammates. Dannell Ellerbe, who was undrafted, is expected to start in Lewis' spot. Jimmy Smith, who has been a rare first-round disappointment for the Ravens, is going to replace Webb. The other new starters include another undrafted player (linebacker Albert McClellan) and a 2011 fifth-round pick (defensive end Pernell McPhee)."
The AFC North blogger also said that Haloti Ngata and Ed Reed will have to step up, as will others, but it will be interesting to hear Suggs' point of view when he returns to practice, which will reportedly be today.
Power Rankings: Week 7
Despite a nail-biting win in which the Ravens gave up a franchise record 227 rushing yards and suffered a rash of injuries on defense, many pundits moved Baltimore up in their power rankings.
The biggest boost came from FoxSports.com's Brian Billick, who lifted the Ravens four spots to No. 2. The only person to drop the Ravens, solely based on the injuries, was Yahoo! Sports' Zac Wassink.
Pete Prisco, CBSSports.com: No. 2, moved up two spots
I know they are 5-1, but they can't be happy with a defense that is getting gashed against the run and now will be without star corner Lardarius Webb and emotional leader Ray Lewis.
ESPN.com: No. 4, no movement
Baltimore's margin of victory in its four-game winning streak: 3.2 points.
Brian Billick, Foxsports.com: No. 2, moved up four spots
It took a dropped 2-point conversion and a missed field goal after blown onside-kick coverage against Dallas, but a win is a win. This Ravens offense is underrated, but will need to carry the team after losing two key defenders in LB Ray Lewis and CB Lardarius Webb.
Elliot Harrison, NFL.com: No. 4, no movement
The Baltimore Ravens survived a late Dallas Cowboys rally in one of Week 6's more entertaining affairs, but this team stays in the cleanup spot in the rankings because of injuries. Baltimore's biggest on-field issue remains: the leaky rush defense let Dallas run wild (227 yards) one week after the Kansas City Chiefs put up two bills on the ground. Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees has to turn it around or every opponent will pound the run over ... and over ... and over again. In an unrelated note, Anquan Boldin is having a clutch year for John Harbaugh's group. #impressed
Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk.com: No. 2, moved up three spots
It'll be hard to stay at No. 2 without No. 52 and No. 21.
Peter King, Sports Illustrated: No. 5, moved up one spot
John Harbaugh is now 31-5 at home. The Ravens are on a 14-game winning streak at The Big Crabcake. But it's not at home where Baltimore's about to be tested. Next six weeks: at Houston, bye, at Cleveland, vs. Oakland, at Pittsburgh, at San Diego. Yikes.
Zac Wassink, Yahoo! Sports: No. 6, moved down one spot
Have to drop the Ravens in NFL power rankings despite the win due to the crippling injuries. A defense that has already been not as good as advertised lost two extremely important players, including arguably the most motivational leader in pro sports.
- Quarterback Joe Flacco got a B-minus grade for his performance against the Cowboys Sunday. [ESPN]
- The NFL confirmed Tuesday that Beyonce will be the halftime show performer at this year's Super Bowl in New Orleans. [Associated Press]
- The league also announced that for the first time two regular-season games will be played in London next year: the Minnesota Vikings will host the Pittsburgh Steelers (Sept. 29) and the Jacksonville Jaguars will host the San Francisco 49ers (Oct. 27). [Associated Press]
- The loss of Lewis and Webb speed up the Ravens’ shift toward offense, says Don Banks. [Sports Illustrated]
- Tedy Bruschi and Antonio Pierce discuss their top five middle linebackers since 1996. [ESPN]