OAHU, Hawaii — Ray Lewis has done this before. Twelve times. But only once — following the 2000 season — has he been a guest here in Hawaii as a Super Bowl champion.
However, after 16 seasons in the NFL, Lewis is at peace with his status — as what many consider the best ever to play linebacker, and as a regular visitor to Honolulu as a runner-up.
“The thing is, everybody wants that one thing. Everybody wants to touch glory,” Lewis said Thursday in an interview with NFL Network. “When you’ve been there, you always try to explain to them what it feels like, what it takes to get there. And then when you get guys in their older years — Ed (Reed) and (Terrell) Suggs and all those guys — it really hurts. It’s like, ‘Aah!’ Yeah, we didn’t get there this year, but there’s only one champion at the end of the day.”
Lewis has been receiving accolades for a post-game speech he made to his teammates in the wake of a painful loss to the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. His message was simple: Falling short of the ultimate goal doesn’t mean the Ravens’ journey wasn’t worthwhile.
“The way y’all feeling this week, somebody’s feeling like that tonight, somebody’s going to feel like that in two weeks and that’s all it is,” Lewis said of his message.” So I had to take that road because I’ve been there. I’ve been on both sides of it, and to see my team fight so well, I’m like, ‘Don’t discredit what we’ve done.’ ”
Ravens guard Ben Grubbs said Lewis’ message was meaningful because of who it came from.
“To hear those words come from him, it really means something,” Grubbs said. “He really put everything into perspective … He was like, ‘How great is your pain?’ that pain we were experiencing after the loss. ‘How great is it?’ It’s not that great, when you think about the lives that are being lost around the world. It kind of puts things into perspective.”