When speaking about the Ravens, retired Ray Lewis can't help himself from using the terms "us" and "we."
Lewis said he doesn't have any withdrawal from playing in the NFL. If he's not immersed in his family, he's working as an analyst for ESPN.
But Lewis is still very much invested in his former team.
"That connection is forever," Lewis said Tuesday during a national conference call before being inducted into the Ravens Ring of Honor Sunday afternoon.
Lewis said he still sends text messages to a bunch of coaches and players, such as linebacker Terrell Suggs. They're messages like, "I miss you," or "How are you doing?" or "Just checking on you." Lewis said there are general conversations every day.
"That's one thing that I think is kind of different in the Ravens organization," he said. "We've always had a brotherhood type of essence in there. When the game is done, you're still like brothers."
Lewis said he still goes "crazy" yelling in his hotel room when watching Ravens games.
The competiveness and intensity don't fade easily, and many retired players talk about the itch of getting back on the field.
For example, center Matt Birk, who hung it up this offseason after 15 years, tweeted the night before the Ravens' season opener that he wished he was in Denver. Then he posted a picture on Instagram of him watching the game while wearing his Super Bowl jersey and helmet with the message, "Just watching the game. Ready if needed."
That's not Lewis.
He said it's been a "great adjustment" because he's still able to text and talk to his former team, and is still around the game with ESPN, but he doesn't have to live and breathe it every day.
Lewis still hasn't even taken the time to go watch the TV copy of his famous "last ride."
"I went at the game so hard. I enjoyed every moment of it, but there was a part of me … my family had to sacrifice so much," Lewis said.
"Honestly, since I've been done with the game, everything I've been doing – if it's not with ESPN – it's been with my kids. The time with them, just being there and them knowing that their dad is home, here to [relax] and doesn't have to always be away. It's the ultimate now. I appreciated the game, I love the game so much, but I can't tell you that I have withdrawals [thinking] 'I really miss the game.'"
Lewis has kept up with the Ravens' defensive changes and progress. It's part of his job now too, and he's been asked for his opinion on ESPN. He likes what he sees in the post-Lewis defensive era.
"They're adjusting to a lot of new pieces," Lewis said. "I think they're doing a pretty good job. Sometimes on Sunday it doesn't always show. But once the chemistry starts to kick in there, I think everything will be fine."