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Ravens’ Ray Lewis will Return for a 17th season

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(Credits: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Following the Baltimore Ravens’ 23-20 defeat at the hands of the New England Patriots in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game, middle linebacker Ray Lewis shot down any notion that he will retire.

Lewis, 36, said he will return to the Ravens next season, which will be his 17th in the NFL.

The 13-time Pro Bowler is so sure he’ll be anchoring the Ravens’ defense next season that he cleared up the issue himself.

“Is this my last time as a Raven? Absolutely not,” Lewis said, via ESPN.com. “Let me answer that question before somebody asks me. Absolutely not. It’s just too much. Life offers too much. Everytime you step on this field, it’s a true blessing.”

Lewis, who will turn 37 this May, endured perhaps his roughest season of his career. He suffered a right turf toe injury late in the season, causing him to miss four games and he didn’t play at the same level when he returned to the lineup.

Despite it all, Lewis managed to lead the Ravens in tackles with 95, and he recorded seven forced fumbles, two sacks and one interception.

It may be wise for the Ravens to consider reducing Lewis’ snaps next season to keep him healthy and fresh throughout the physically grueling 16-game regular season schedule. Since entering the league in 1996, Lewis has been an every-down player.