The Baltimore Ravens finally held the long-awaited press conference for Ray Lewis on Thursday, giving the media a chance to get their questions answered about the seven-year, incentive-laden contract that was officially signed more than a week ago.
Thursday’s 30-minute press conference was scheduled to coincide with halftime of the Maryland-California NCAA men’s basketball tournament game. Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti is a big Terrapins fan and a close friend of head coach Gary Williams.
Back to Lewis. The legacy of the 10-time Pro Bowl linebacker will now start and end with the Ravens.
“When I’m done, I’m going to be proud to say that there’s only one, only one color jersey I ever put on in my life,” Lewis said. “There’s only one color I ever put on. That, for me, is why I play this game. That, for me, that’s the legacy I’ve always chased. Always.”
One of the most interesting facts that came out of Thursday’s press conference was that Lewis didn’t make any visits to other teams. In his mind, he was never going to leave Baltimore. As for some of the rumors that connected him to other teams, Lewis countered that they were just that — rumors.
“I would call everything that was out there a rumor if I’m sitting here,” Lewis said. “Just being realistic. If there was some substance, there would have been something done. I would have took a trip or flirted some different type of way. But it wasn’t. That’s just how flat it was. The bottom line, to be brutally honest, I had more contact with my own organization than I had with anybody.”
Bisciotti acknowledged that the Ravens made Lewis “a legitimate” contract offer before the start of free agency, but the team also granted his request to see what was available on the open market. After about a week, Lewis and his side came back, agreeing to terms with Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome. The contract — which The Associated Press reports includes options in the second and third seasons — pays Lewis $10 million next season and runs through 2015.
Lewis, who said he was satisfied with the deal and that he hasn’t taken less to stay, said he was “not even close” to thinking about how much football he has left. At one point, he also was reminded of his comments on NFL Network at the Pro Bowl when he said: “I don’t play less. So if you don’t play less, you don’t take less.” He shook off the question rather effortlessly.
“Take money and throw it out the window,” Lewis said. “This organization made sure I was OK on that side of the ball. That’s whatever it is. … At the Pro Bowl, you just have a couple of Mai Tais and just have a great time. They ask you a question, and you answer the question. That’s all. That wasn’t directed toward anybody.”