After announcing prior to the playoffs that this would be his "last ride," Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis reiterated Monday that he's "ran his course" in this game after 17 seasons.
Cynical NFL fans can be forgiven for questioning Lewis' commitment to the decision. In fact, long-time teammate Ed Reed warned reporters gathered in New Orleans not to be "so sure" that Super Bowl XLVII will indeed be the future Hall of Famer's last game.
"Maybe he'll play 10 games next year," added Reed.
Lewis reportedly already has a multi-year deal in place to join ESPN as a studio analyst. His son, Ray Lewis III, is slated to follow in his footsteps as a freshman running back for the Miami Hurricanes in 2013. Lewis insisted a week ago that he "can't come back" because family considerations now outweigh his desire to play another season.
It's understandable that Reed would hold out hope for one more Butch-and-Sundance championship run with his mentor and friend. And while there might no longer be a surefire high-profile retirement in the post-Brett Favre landscape, we suspect Lewis will follow through with his pledge after Sunday's game.