On October 15th, Raven’s star linebacker Ray Lewis tore his tricep completely in the fourth quarter against the Dallas Cowboys. A torn tricep will spell the end of the season for Lewis, but begs the question: can the aging star come back next season?
There is much speculation thusfar regarding Lewis’ possible retirement from the game he has spent the last 17 seasons playing. As an aging and increasingly ineffective player, some fans and sports writers immediately speculated that Lewis had played his final game. But ESPN’s Skip Bayless managed to forget about Tim Tebow for approximately four minutes to say that he is “1,000 percent” behind the idea of Lewis returning.
In a poll conducted by ESPN, 66% of fans said they believe Lewis should rehab his injury, forego retirement, and return to the field next year. Clearly, the nation as a whole would love to see just a few more big hits dished out by the three-time AFC Defensive Player of the Year.
Tricep injuries are not always the easiest to recover from, however. Though fairly straightforward in their procedure, tricep tears almost always require surgery, which leads to about a year of rehabilitation in a typical patient. Age is another factor, as Lewis will have turned 38 by the beginning of next season’s training camp. Rehabbing from injuries becomes more difficult with age, and can occasionally lead to other injuries.
Luckily for the Ravens, Lewis is not just a “typical patient”. Ray Lewis is a devoted, hard working, machine of a professional athlete. He dropped 20 pounds entering the season to make up for lost ability due to age, and is not done working yet.
After a crushing 23-20 loss to the New England Patriots in last year’s AFC Championship game, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis claimed, “I’m hungry again and I’m thirsty again.” Lewis, 13 time Pro-Bowl selection and 17 year league veteran was hungry for one thing: another Super Bowl. If it was the last thing Ray Lewis was going to do, it was lead his team to another Super Bowl victory. This injury puts that goal into serious jeopardy.
Although Lewis has slowed by the age of 37, he is still one of the biggest pieces of the Raven’s defensive corps. His pregame pep talks are legendary around the league; his signature dance used to hype up the crowd was famously mocked by Terrell Owens during Ownes’ stay in Philadelphia. This is all a part of what makes up Ray Lewis. He has tremendous impact both on and off the field, bringing not only huge sacks and game-changing interceptions, but energy and leadership skills to the locker room.
Lewis, however, has chosen to let his play do the talking throughout his career. What he is facing now is one of the biggest decisions of his playing career: try to bounce back from the injury, or call it a career and settle down?
Whether or not Ray Lewis returns from his tricep injury lies only in the hands of Lewis himself. Ravens lineman Haloti Ngata told the NFL Network that Lewis confidently declared to him, “I’ll be back”. When Arnold Swarzenegger famously uttered that same line in The Terminator, he stayed true to his word. Truth be told, it’s hardly outlandish to hold Lewis to that same standard; like the Terminator, Lewis is not man, but machine.