Ray Lewis spent 17 seasons instilling fear in his opponents while serving as an inspirational leader for the Ravens.
Now he’s poised and eager to become a full-time dad.
Lewis announced Wednesday he will end his brilliant NFL career after Baltimore completes its 2013 playoff run.
Lewis has been sidelined since Oct. 14 with a torn right triceps. The 13-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker intends to return Sunday to face the Colts in what will almost certainly be his final home game.
‘‘Everything that starts has an end,’’ the 37-year-old Lewis said. ‘‘For me, today, I told my team that this will be my last ride.’’
Lewis will walk away from the game because he wants to spend more time with his sons. While working to return from his injury, Lewis watched two of his boys play on the same high school football team in Florida. He intends to see Ray Lewis III perform as a freshman next year for the University of Miami, where the elder Lewis starred before the Ravens selected him in the first round of the 1996 draft.
Lewis was the AP Defensive Player of the Year in 2000, the same season he was voted Super Bowl MVP following Baltimore’s 34-7 rout of the Giants. Lewis was also Defensive Player of the Year in 2003, and is the only player in NFL history with at least 40 career sacks and 30 interceptions.
‘‘I never played the game for individual stats,’’ Lewis said. ‘‘I only played the game to make my team a better team.’’
Lewis has been with the Ravens since they moved from Cleveland. After being drafted 26th overall in Baltimore’s first draft, Lewis became a fixture at middle linebacker — and a beloved figure in Baltimore. He remained that way even after his alleged involvement in a double-murder in Atlanta in early 2000.
In June of that year, a judge approved a deal allowing Lewis to avoid murder charges and jail time by pleading guilty to a misdemeanor and testifying against two co-defendants. Within a year, Lewis was in the Super Bowl, leading the Ravens to their only NFL championship.
Hundreds of games later, he’s ready to call it a career.
‘‘I’ll make this last run with this team, and I’ll give them everything I’ve got,’’ he said. ‘‘When it ends, it ends. But I didn’t come back for it to end in the first round.’’
Browns hot for Kelly
Oregon’s Chip Kelly appears to be near the top of the Browns’ coaching wish list. According to several reports, Cleveland CEO Joe Banner is in Arizona and intends to interview Kelly, who is preparing the Ducks to play in Thursday’s Fiesta Bowl. Kelly has been courted by NFL teams in the past and came close to taking Tampa Bay’s job last year. Kelly has deflected questions about a possible jump to the pros, saying he’s focused on finishing his fourth season at Oregon. Browns owner Jimmy Haslam would not confirm any interviews . . . Packers offensive coordinator Tom Clements said he’s ‘‘flattered’’ to be drawing interest from other teams but said his focus remains on the Saturday’s playoff game against the Vikings. Clements told the Green Bay Press-Gazette and ESPNWisconsin.com the Bears have asked the Packers for permission to talk to Clements about their head coaching position. Permission has been granted, but NFL rules prohibit Clements from talking to the Bears at least until after Saturday night’s game . . . A person familiar with Andy Reid’s plans told the AP that the former Eagles coached interviewed with the Chiefs for their open job. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the information was not made public. ESPN.com first reported that Reid was meeting with the Chiefs . . . Reid is expected to interview with the Cardinals, who completed an extensive interview that spread over two days with defensive coordinator Ray Horton in the search for a replacement for Ken Whisenhunt. Cardinals president Michael Bidwill has identified Horton, Reid, and Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy as candidates . . . Whisenhunt, meanwhile, interviewed with the Bills, who are also reportedly seeking to interview Horton and McCoy . . . Falcons coach Mike Smith said offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter has signed a contract extension to stay with the team through next season. Koetter’s name surfaced this week as a head coaching candidate in Cleveland, Kansas City, and Philadelphia.
Rams’ Williams out
Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, suspended for his role in the Saints bounty scandal, will not return to the Rams next season, according to an ESPN report. Williams’s son, Blake, who served as St. Louis’s linebackers coach, also was let go . . . Jimmy Raye, the Chargers director of player personnel, interviewed for the team’s vacant GM job. According to four people familiar with the search process, the other known candidates are player personnel men Tom Gamble of San Francisco, David Caldwell of Atlanta, Steve Keim of Arizona, and Tom Telesco of Indianapolis. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the Chargers haven’t revealed the names . . . Lions GM Martin Mayhew said as far as he knows, both he and coach Jim Schwartz will return next season. Detroit finished the season on an eight-game skid.
Ponder is limited
Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder is hampered by a sore right elbow that is limiting his practice time. Coach Leslie Frazier said Ponder could ramp up his activity Thursday and is expected to play against the Packers . . . The Jets violated the NFL’s media policy by not making coach Rex Ryan or other team executives available within a week of the end of the regular season. Ryan and owner Woody Johnson will meet with the media Jan. 8 . . . In other Jets news, a person familiar with the situation told the AP that no decision has been made on the status of offensive coordinator Tony Sparano. Several media outlets had reported the team was going to fire Sparano after the team finished 30th overall on offense . . . Cowboys owner Jerry Jones expressed support for coach Jason Garrett in radio interview on KRLD-FM but also said, “Change is necessary at 8-8. Change is in order when you spend the two seasons in a row down to the last two games and lose them.’’