Ray Lewis says he owes his Ravens teammates something as their leader, "and that is to have myself totally prepared."

Lewis focuses on going out on top

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013 - 5:42 pm

NEW ORLEANS – Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said his "hunger" to win another Super Bowl is "probably off the charts."

"I was 25 when I won my first Super Bowl. To be 37 and back here and have a chance to win another one in my last year, there's no greater hunger that I have," Lewis said after he and the team arrived Monday. "I'm going to give my teammates everything I have and not just on Sunday.

"Starting today, I'm not going nowhere. I'm sitting in my room and I'm studying and studying and studying. I owe them something as a leader, and that is to have myself totally prepared."

Lewis said when the Ravens were in the Super Bowl in the 2000 season, he followed veterans like Shannon Sharpe and Rod Woodson. Now, he said teammates are asking him how they should handle the week.

"All week I've heard guys talking like, 'Man, I can't believe we're here. We made it, we made it.' (Monday), I think it actually confirmed for a lot of people that it's really real," Lewis said.

Lewis spoke of how special it is that all his family, including his father – with whom he has had a very complicated relationship – is planning to be in New Orleans this week. Lewis said the one exception is his ailing grandmother.

"Everything is complete now," he said. "My entire family will be here actually watching this game outside my grandmother, who is very ill. Anytime you can finish your career with your whole family by your side, I think that's the way you always should do it."

Lewis also was asked about his past, including his reaction to Facebook comments made by the wife of New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker after the Ravens' 28-13 victory in the AFC Championship Game. Anna Burns Welker questioned why Lewis is viewed as a role model.

"I don't really get into that," he said. "Listen, I've always been a firm believer of the good book and the good book always confirms, even a fool is counted wise until he opens he or she mouth. Sometimes, people just say silly stuff and they say it out of emotion.

"Sometimes, you need to let the game take care of the game. We lost last year up there, and I didn't hear one teammate say anything about anybody there because we have respect for that team, that they won it fair and square. For her to come out and say what she said, look, I truly forgive her. I don't have no hard feelings against her at all, but I believe that people just make mistakes and say stupid things at times."

Asked why he feels the public has forgiven him after his legal problems earlier in his career – he pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and received a year of probation in the stabbing deaths of two men after a Super Bowl party in Atlanta in 2000 – Lewis said, "Honestly, I don't know nobody that has ever lived a perfect life. I have saw people that went through things before, and realistically, most of the time what happens, when somebody goes through adversity, you really find out what their true character is. I think for me, people really now have taken time to find out who I am. They are really learning what my character is.

"My character is simply to make this world a better place, to encourage people that no matter what you're going through, it ain't really what you're going through. It's your mindset when you're going through it.

"So when you see all the support that I'm getting right now, I'm in total awe of the respect that some people have of someone who has been through adversity but found his way out and really just shown what my true character is and who I am as a person."

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