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Ray Lewis Answers Questions on Playing Time, Retirement

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(Credits: Darron Cummings/AP)

Over the past several weeks, the debate has begun to heat up as to exactly how much football Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis has left in his 36-year old tank.

Lewis, a 16-year veteran, has lost a step or two as the years have passed by. He”s still effective in the run game and has shown the ability to move sideline-to-sideline, but recently, many have questioned whether he should be an every-down linebacker.

Today, Lewis responded to his critics, via .

“Sixteen years (I”ve) been in this business. Do you know how many men I have seen come walk in and out of this door?” Lewis said, when asked if he”s bothered by the talk about his play declining. “(I always) think about all the people that had that one dream to be here and never made it. For God to carry me through 16 years and still playing at the level that I am playing at … You know what? Man, speaks what man speaks. God controls a whole another thought process.”

Despite missing four games due to a right turf toe injury, the former two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year still managed to lead the Ravens in tackles with 95. He was also selected to his 13th Pro Bowl, which is part of the reason why he says he”s still happy with the level at which he”s playing.

“If you ask my peers, why wouldn”t I be?” . “You go through a resume of all of the great ones, and you can always go back to when they had their downs, they had their ups, but they were able to overcome that and keep going.”

Lewis said he”s never had a conversation with any of his coaches about limiting his reps or working in as part of a rotation, except, he says, when he”s been injured, of MASNSports.com writes. Even then, Lewis admitted he fought the team”s decision to hold him out (in a game this season against the Browns, for example), and only eventually called it a day when he felt he was in too much pain to continue playing.

That conversation about playing time might have to come sometime in the not-too-distant future, but apparently it hasn”t happened yet.

Lewis said he is focused on the here and now, not the future. Any discussions about his retirement, he claims, are premature.

“I guess only the people that write are the only people that can think about it,” . “I don”t. I have a true obligation, first of all, to myself to play the game with nothing else on my mind. The second thing I have an obligation to are my teammates – just to give it everything I”ve got and don”t listen to what nobody else says. Just do what you do.

“We have an opportunity. If we can block everything out that everybody wants to write about or think about, then we have a great chance to go on and do some special things with this team.”