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Ray Lewis is gone for the year, gone maybe forever, and whether it's in the middle of a key possession or those emotional moments in a pre-game, championship game tunnel, there isn't any way to replace everything he brought to the Ravens, slow, slowing or not.
This cannot be the way Ray Lewis wants to go out.
Yet knowing Lewis, this marks a new challenge. A reason to prove something else.
With Ray Lewis out for the season with torn triceps muscle in his right arm, the biggest question now is whether this marks the end of a Hall of Fame career.
No one knows what Lewis is thinking at this point, but don't expect him to announce his retirement anytime soon. Even if Lewis was thinking of hanging it up this season, the injury shelved those plans.
Lewis, 37, is the type of leader and player who will want to leave the game on his own terms. He won't be forced out by an injury, a coach or critics. If you think this is the end of Lewis' career, you haven't been paying attention to the 17 years he's been in the league.
As all older athletes do, Ray Lewis has slowed down, limiting his ability to get to the quarterback or to make tackles in space. The weight he lost in the off-season, in an attempt to regain some speed, has meant that he is no longer a suffocating run-stuffer either.
But with his ferocious pregame speeches and his exuberant entrance dances, Lewis has remained the heartbeat of the Ravens, the controlling force of teammates, and it is nearly impossible to imagine the Ravens without him, either on the field or in the locker room.