Lewis announced his plan to retire after this season on Wednesday, explaining to his teammates and then the media that this would be his “last ride” on the gridiron. So, while brief, given his focus on the Patriots’ own postseason preparations, Belichick did take a moment to praise Lewis for his achievements in a successful 17-year NFL career.
“Tremendous player, tremendous career,” Belichick said. “I’ve known Ray since I went down and visited with him in 1996 prior to the draft in Miami. He’s had a great career, he’s a great player.”
Belichick also spoke at length about his 1996 pre-draft meeting with Lewis before the Patriots’ AFC Championship Game showdown with the Ravens last January. He said he was impressed with Lewis then and that feeling obviously has only grown over the past 17 years.
Lewis put together an amazing career in 17 seasons, winning two NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards, one Super Bowl (XXXV), a Super Bowl MVP, being named to 13 Pro Bowls and 10 All-Pro teams. He’s been hugely important to the growth and popularity of the Ravens’ franchise and made a lasting impact on the way the linebacker position is played in the NFL — something Belichick, as a defensive specialist, likely holds in higher regard than anything else.