You knew it was coming, that it was just a matter of time, but if the torn triceps experienced by Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens ends his career, it certainly is a difficult way to end one of - if not the greatest - careers of all time.
Many don't like Ray Lewis due to what happened on Super Bowl week many years ago. And there was a time that when Lewis spoke, I tuned out because of that event.
Yet, as time moved on I could not help but tune back in. To me, Ray Lewis is the best middle linebacker ever. Perhaps I am giving him too much respect when you think of the many men who have played that position, but it is the combination of abilities that set him apart. And leadership is the number one separation point.
It is tough to be a leader because it takes energy, you are giving your energy to others for their benefit. You're making the effort to help others be their best in a sport where that is not always recognized. The most important aspect of leadership is your own personal play. If you are not a good player you can't lead. Because the most important aspect of leadership is respect, in terms of the respect you get from others and the way you present yourself.
Some people do not need to be led, but in a sport like football, where there are so many roles by position and by personality, having a player to keep everyone focused and heading in the right direction is very important. A good leader gives others confidence, in that as long as you see that person you see good about the eventual outcome.
A good leader sets the day-by-day tone. He establishes it by being the first one there and last one to leave, and he never cuts corners.
The Ravens next challenge is the Houston Texans, a team that is coming off a 42-24 loss to Green Bay. Those moments close to kickoff where Lewis gets the team together and makes sure they are emotionally ready won't be there this year. And even if they are, it's not the same when everyone is in pads, and the person talking is in street clothes.
Will Ray Lewis retire? I figure it's 50-50. It is a legitimate reason to end one of the greatest careers ever, but it is a tough way to leave.