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Ray Lewis shown love by Colts, who'll play Ravens

INDIANAPOLIS -- Ray Lewis dominated headlines Wednesday with his announced retirement plans. The news especially was relevant in Indianapolis as the Colts prepare to face the Ravens in Sunday's AFC Wild Card Game. Oh, and coach Chuck Pagano was the Ravens' defensive coordinator in 2011.

"Obviously he's a first-ballot Hall of Famer," Pagano said of Lewis. "We all know what he's done on and off the football field. It was like everybody else that had an opportunity to be around the guy will cherish that for the rest of their lives.

"We just know that coming back, I'm pretty sure they'll probably introduce the defense and he'll be the last one out, and we all know how that goes. He'll ignite and incite a riot, so to speak, and there'll be a ton of energy on that football team and on that sideline and in that stadium. He's their leader. Anytime you get your leader back, it's an added spark."

Colts linebacker Dwight Freeney has seven Pro Bowls on his resume, but he's nowhere near the household name that Lewis is throughout the country. Freeney explained how special that is.

"He's meant a lot just for the league in general, but (for) defensive guys especially," Freeney said. "This is a league where the most focus goes on offense -- quarterbacks, running backs, all the high-profile positions. Very few times do you see a defensive guy get highlighted on a commercial, this, that and the other. Then you see Ray on there. It's kind of like he's one of us, even though he's on the opposite team. You feel good when you see him. Obviously the things he's done for the game and just how he motivates guys. I've been around him a few times at the Pro Bowl, and it really is amazing -- how passionate he is. Even in a Pro Bowl game. ... There's only one Ray.

"I'm sure it's going to be a very emotional series and game for them, which it should be. He's meant a lot to that organization and that city."

Colts cornerback Vontae Davis seemed dumbfounded by the news.

"I have the utmost respect for Ray Lewis," Davis said. "It seems crazy because he's a guy that you think can play forever. For him to say this might be his last year, that's shocking to me."

Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck summed up how scores of players who came through the league feel.

"It'll be fun to maybe one day say I got to play against Ray Lewis," Luck said.

Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.

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