Injury Forces Lewis To Drop Out Of Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb
Ray Lewis' journey up Mount Kilimanjaro ended before it even began.
Before the Ravens retired linebacker went to bed on the eve of the ascent, he knew something was wrong.
That night a fever spiked and his foot, which had been repeatedly injured throughout his 17-year football career, began to swell, according to the TackleKili website.
It was enough for Lewis to stay behind as his team began its journey up the 19,340-foot mountain.
"In the end, Ray's decision was to let the team move on without him, rather than hold them back or put himself in a position where an injury which requires surgery could become even more complicated," the website announced. "As always, his team backed his play."
Lewis joined Doug Pitt, brother of actor Brad Pitt and a goodwill ambassador in Tanzania, and others to raise awareness of and money for clean water in East Africa. The day before the climb, Lewis was on his foot all day in Arusha, Tanzania giving hearing aids to children.
After that event, Lewis did a video interview that closed with him saying, "I’m ready to tackle the mountain."
Even though he will no longer get that chance, Lewis plans on continuing to help the TackleKili mission for World Serve International and Pros for Africa, just at a lower altitude.
"Foot pain grew worse after yesterday's hearing mission. The team goes on; I will serve otherwise4 #cleanwater," Lewis tweeted Thursday.
Lewis, who is probably the most disappointed about missing the climb, went out the only way he knows how – with an inspiring speech.
"The greatest thing we have in life is called opportunity. And it's what you do with opportunity that will actually leave a lasting legacy," Lewis says in the video below. "This team that we put together to go impact lives after lives after lives, to touch people that may never know our names. But they'll remember our legacy because of what we did to bring clean water to the motherland. …
"To my team, to my family, to my love, let's go do what we do best – let's bless people. Let's get to the top of that mountain. And when we get there, give God all the glory because that's the only reason we make it to the top. Nothing can stop us."
Birk: Ravens May Be Better Next YearWith Matt Birk standing across from him at the NFL Network studio, analyst Brian Baldinger reviewed some of the Ravens' key losses from their Super Bowl-winning team and said "the biggest hole they have to fill is probably Matt at center."
To which Birk replied: "If Baldy, the NFL expert, thinks I'm the biggest hole they have to fill, that's not a big hole.
"The Ravens may be better next year. I really do think the Ravens might be better next year."
Most teams simply work to maintain their Super Bowl rosters. If Birk is right, and Baltimore can actually improve its World Champion team, things could get ugly for the other 31 NFL teams.
With the exception of the Anquan Boldin trade, Birk has been impressed with General Manager Ozzie Newsome's maneuvering this offseason, especially with beefing up the defensive line. Birk said the line will now become the Ravens' "strength" with new acquisitions Elvis Dumervil, Marcus Spears and Chris Canty added to Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata.
The retired center also pointed to the return of Lardarius Webb as a major boon.
"Webb is a football player," Birk said. "He might not be a household name, but he is one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL.
"Dean Pees, the defensive coordinator for the Ravens, he's going to have some fun."
Which WRs Will Be Cut Before Season?
Of any position on the Ravens roster, fans are probably most familiar with the depth at wide receiver.
That's why when Head Coach John Harbaugh is forced to make tough decisions prior to the season, and will likely before forced to let some of his receivers go, it will be hard on many.
One fan asked ESPN's Jamison Hensley which receivers are the most likely to be cut when the roster is trimmed down to 53.
It will be one of the tightest competitions of training camp, and there are only three receivers that are "locks" to make the roster, according to the AFC North blogger. Those three are Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones and Tandon Doss.
"The fates of Deonte Thompson, David Reed and LaQuan Williams will be based on their special teams play and their work at receiver," Hensley wrote.
Harbs Staying The Course
Rather than consult with other teams and coaches that have won championships, Harbaugh is sticking with a formula that has resulted in five consecutive playoff appearances and a Super Bowl win.
That formula is to consult with his usual advisors – his dad, Jack Harbaugh, Owner Steve Bisciotti, Newsome and his team.
"I talk to the people I usually talk to probably about what is going on," Harbaugh said, per The Baltimore Sun. "You probably can figure out who those people are. No, it hasn't been too much different. Every year you face different challenges. This is new in a lot of different ways. You just try to do the best you can and make good choices and good decisions. We have a good team here. We have a lot of players that really care.
"We have a lot of leadership, young and veteran leadership. We have a great building from Steve Bisciotti right on through Ozzie, of course, Eric, Pat and Vince, and the coaching staff with our coordinators and our coaches always give us great input. It's a team effort."
- In honor of the Fourth of July holiday, the NFL Network counted down the top 10 fourth-down plays in NFL history. Two Ravens plays from 2012 made the list – Ray Rice's diddle up the middle on fourth-and-29 against the Chargers is No. 9. And the Ravens' game-deciding fourth-down stop against the 49ers in the final seconds of Super Bowl XLVII was No. 2. [NFL.com]
- @pmgleason Ravens PR]: Today's @SportsCenter "Going Home" feature is a must-see. #emotional #tearjerker. [God bless our troops & our great nation.
- @jtuck9: Happy 4th!! #MURICA
- @torreysmithwr: Had fun at @BryantMckinnie cookout with @TyrodTaylor @iamQUAN @C33_T
- When the Ravens open their season in Denver this September, the Broncos will enjoy their first regular-season game with a brand new monstrous LED video scoreboard – the third-largest in the league. The $30-million dollar investment is 220 feet long and 40 feet high, and the team gave us sneak peek yesterday.
What do you think, #BroncosCountry? MT @DenverOutlaws: Here's a shot of the scoreboard before tonight's Outlaws game: pic.twitter.com/Yi7FYfWABk — Denver Broncos (@DenverBroncos) June 1, 2013