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Ray Lewis Conference Call Transcript

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis addresses the National media during his conference call on Thursday, January 17, 2013.


On what he wants to be most remembered for at the end of his career:*

"I think the greatest thing you can ever be remembered for is the impact and things that you had on other people. At the end of the day, with all of the men that I've been around, to one day look back here and listen to men say, 'He was one of people who helped changed my life,' is probably one of the greatest legacies to be remembered for."

On how special this Ravens team has been this year:

"With everything that we went through, the up and down roller coaster all year, the injuries and things we went through … We dealt with so much the entire year. For us to fight, fight, fight, fight and now be back here with the same opportunity … We were here last year in the same position. We were a catch away, a field goal away from going to the Super Bowl. For us to be back here shows how dedicated we were to get back to this point. I just tip my hat and give credit to my team. No matter what we went through this year, we fought to get back here."

On offenses pushing the envelope more now in his career and the challenge to be a dominating defense in this era of the NFL:

"We have to be very honest about it. It favors [the offense]. It favors the offense with the rules and all of the different things that are put in now. Defensively, you can't touch them here, you can't hit them high, you can't hit them low. It kind of favors them to pick up the pace and try to … I call it steal yardage throughout the game. That's what kind of makes it hard. Even if you are on defense and make the perfect hit, you get flagged 15 yards here, because the pace is so fast, we have to kind of slow the pace down and line up. If you watched the [Houston vs. New England game], [the Patriots] were able to get people out of alignment, people were standing around on the goal line, which is supposed to be the hardest place to score. But it was the easiest place for [the Patriots] because [the Texans] weren't getting lined up and things. I think it's kind of give and take."

On the difference in defense from the beginning of his career to the end:

"Absolutely. Earlier in my career, honestly, you just didn't have so many rules. There are so many rules that are put in now, and of course, I'm a biased [defensive player]. There are so many rules that are put in now for the offense. So, it helps them. It favors them a lot. Why wouldn't they do it? You throw the ball downfield and there is favorable pass interference, you hurry up and get 12 men on the field. There are so many things that favor [the offense] and it's changed so much from earlier in my career to now."

On the differences between playing QBs Peyton Manning and Tom Brady:

"You're talking about arguably the top two or three greatest quarterbacks of all time. So when you go from Peyton Manning to Tom Brady, you're going from 1A to 1A. It's not like you get a drop-off. I'd back up to the same fact we had last week. Is he going to make plays? Absolutely. But you have to play the whole game. You have to be patient enough to let them make plays and move on to the next play. You can't harp on one play good or bad. You have to keep on moving. These are guys, and I always said, they play chess matches. That's the thing that you have to be prepared to play when you get ready to play these guys, because they understand the game so well. Playing against Brady and just watching him sometimes, you're always in awe on watching on how good he really is."

On what he will miss the most when he ends his career:

"I think the brotherhood. There is nothing greater than the brotherhood. It's what I kind of preach in my locker room. I understand we're in an age where social media is kind of taking over, but I kind of try to get my guys to really understand how close your locker room has to be. And when you come into the locker room, understand who your brothers are. Understand who the men are that you are fighting with. Because, that's the thing you'll remember the most. The wars and battles, they are going to always take care of themselves, and that's competition and most of us have been in that our entire lives. But what we will always remember the most are those locker rooms. What they felt like and the commitment and sacrifices you guys made – that's the thing that when you are done with the game, you will definitely miss what those locker rooms felt like."

On recent games against the Ravens and Patriots being close:

"You have two of the top teams. You have two of the top teams for a long time now. We know each other very well. So, when we play each other, once again, it's that chess match. They are going to make plays and we're going to make plays. Just like our game here [in Week 3] and then the [AFC] Championship last year, it's always going to be one play here and one play there, and whoever makes that last play is going to win the game. So anytime we play each other, it's going to be a 60-minute ballgame simply because we know each other very well. Both teams have great athletes on both sides of the ball who understand the game of football. And when you understand it like that, that's what I've always appreciated watching even in my years watching the old 49ers and old Cowboys. You just watch those great, great rivalries, and we have one of those rivalries going on with New England right now. It's special football when you see it from both sides from both teams."

On if he feels his teammates have given him a little extra since he announced his retirement:

"I think it just brings focus, because you never know. For me to do it when I knew I was going to do it, it was just time. I've always said that I wanted to leave the game on my terms, but I was always respectful of my teammates to never hang that over their heads and say, 'Oh, I'm leaving,' and then not leave. I wanted to know that I was done. And now it is a different focus. It is a different focus that we have and they know that the bottom line is, that after this year, no matter what happens, this will be my last time putting on a uniform. It brings a different focus on a different brotherhood of why you fight now. Some memories will last forever, but then, you know, some things have to end. For me, being in a Ravens uniform is definitely coming to an end after this year."

On what it meant for Broncos QB Peyton Manning to wait for him after last week's game to wish him well:

"Honestly, it is the greatest respect you could ever ask for, warrior to warrior. It is just the way it is. You know, Tom Brady last year, when they won the championship, he and I finding each other … Me and Peyton are much closer because we spent a lot of time together at Pro Bowls and things like that, really hanging out with each other. But it was just so much respect. I sat there and played with his son when he came in the locker room, and those memories, take the game out of it, those memories will be remembered for the rest of my life and his life, knowing that you competed against one of the greatest warriors of all time. Just for him to wait, him and his wife and his family, for them to sit there and wait shows that it is so much bigger than the game. A lot of times people put us in competition against each other, but it is really about the respect that we have for each other, and I have a great, great deal of respect for him."

On the most extraordinary moment of his football career:

"You always have to ask yourself, 'How can you top the moment of hearing those famous words?' And that is, 'Ravens have won the Super Bowl.' When you play the game, that is what you play the game for. You play and hope that one day you hear those words. That is what I am trying to get this team to go back and hear one more time. So they can really feel what it feels like. Because once you hear it, like I tell all of them, your life will never be the same again. That is what I am trying to get these young guys to understand – don't let the moments go by so fast. Cherish the moment. And that for me, when you sum up my career, that can never be taken away from you. Once you are a champion, you are always a champion, and that is probably one of the greatest things I will remember of all time."

On Ravens QB Joe Flacco's confidence after winning last week:

"You can look at Joe's track record. Joe has progressed every year, he has gotten better every year. He is growing up right before our eyes, and no matter how big the game is, the game never gets too big for Joe. Joe is just Joe, and having a game like last week, hopefully, is a great carry over to this week. He has a great opportunity to etch his name into the record books of going and doing something in the playoffs that no quarterback has ever done. I'm glad just to be along for the ride, because when you sit back and watch it, you watch this kid growing up, and hopefully he carries it over this week."

On if he feels like he shares a legacy with Patriots QB Tom Brady:

"Yeah, I mean legacy, like I said, there are certain eras that you always come around through, and Tom and Peyton will always be known for their offensive eras, and I'll be known for the defensive era of my time. When me and my son sit back and talk about it, I'm in awe over the way these guys play the game, and how we challenge each other back and forth with a chess match. I just think there is a certain level of respect that I will always have for these guys because of the way they play the game. You have to respect them, because they've been up there with the highest of highs, and when their name goes down, the Hall of Fame will definitely be calling both of their names very quickly. They play the game at such a high level."

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