A longtime friend and former teammate of middle linebacker
Sanders didn't say he was speaking with any inside knowledge from Lewis, though.
"I don’t believe it, I really don’t," Sanders said today on
"But when he looks amongst the locker room and doesn't see the intangibles to win a championship, that will provoke someone to say, 'This is it for me because I can't continue to put my body through these rigorous training schedules for naught.' That's probably the conclusion he came to for that reason. I don't think it has anything to do with his level of play but what's inside that locker room."
In his remarks today announcing his retirement, Lewis didn't cite that as a reason for his pending retirement after this season.
Although it appears remote that Lewis will pull a
“Yes, it depends on how close they get," Sanders said. "If you get there to the championship game and you’re right there on the front door, and you realize we could have had this; just one step away, a couple of intangibles inside the locker room, maybe the guys that were injured, [
As far as playing with Lewis, Sanders said it was always an experience where Lewis provided motivation in the locker room.
“When I played with the
Former NFL defensive tackle
Like Lewis, Sapp is a fellow University of
"You can't say football without Ray Lewis," Sapp said on NFL Network. "He's deciding that this will be the last one so we've all enjoyed it. I was standing there at the University of Miami the first time he walked in a huddle as a 17-year old kid from Polk County, Lakeland, Florida and stuttered the huddle, if you can believe that. He stuttered it out of his mouth. I was like, 'What? Ray, if you're going to stand in front of this huddle, you have to call it.' He went out and had 20 tackles and an interception at Colorado, and the rest is history."
Sapp said he's never seen a better middle linebacker than Lewis.
"He provides a comfort that you can't outrun him, you're not going over the top of him, you're not going to go through him," Sapp said. "As a rock in the middle of a defense, there is nothing more sane for a defensive tackle like myself to line up and know he's behind him. If you're lucky enough to get past me, he's right there. OK, now what's next?"
Sapp said this was a fitting time for Lewis to walk away.
"There comes a time when you've nurtured and you've raised your young ones, as we like to call them in the NFL, and now it's time for your young ones to carry you," Sapp said. "That's what they're thinking is let's take our great lion to the throne because he's taught us the way. He's shown us how to be professionals on and off the field, how to commit yourself to your career, and more than that be a shining example of how to do it day in and day out."
Sapp said he expects the Ravens to be inspired by Lewis' announcement heading into Sunday's