I understand that not everyone hates the Ravens as much as I do. That’s fair. Part of my hatred is borne of homerism and most of you have different rooting interests than I. But a good chunk of my hatred for the Ravens is because of Ray Lewis and I am quite certain that I am not alone in my contempt for Ray-Ray. Even if you believe Ray-Ray had nothing to do with some guy getting killed in 2000 (and people generally don’t plea bargain for lesser chargers through testifying against their friends if they don’t have anything to do with a murder) it’s hard to get by his highly affected reinvention as “God’s linebacker”, his constant camera mugging, his stupid spastic dance, his tendency to beat his chest when his team wins and hide from the media or blame officiating when they lose or perhaps it’s that he’s one of a handful of players in the league that announcers and analysts go out of their way trying to credit because he’s a star. Or it’s the child support thing. What I’m saying is a lot of people have a lot of reasons to dislike Ray Lewis.

Ray Lewis announced today that he’s going to retire after this season. This isn’t entirely surprising since Lewis doesn’t have anywhere near the physical ability that he used to and he’s coming off a huge injury that many felt would keep him from playing again this season or possibly ever. In fact, it hasn’t even been officially confirmed yet that Ray-Ray will play against the Colts on Sunday. That said, if Lewis is going through this level of theatrics, it’s probably a safe bet that he will play. Not that Ray Lewis likes making things about him or anything.

So what we have on our hands is a John Elway or Jerome Bettis type of situation where a playoff team is going to make the quest of going to the Super Bowl about getting a faded star player the proper sendoff. And those are always terrible. Not only is it a cheap and easy storyline that the media will beat further and further into the ground the longer the Ravens are alive, but it gives the media an excuse to cite Ray Lewis as THE REASON that the Ravens are winning, even when it’s clear he might actually be a liability on the field.

I can just hear Phil Simms now. “AWWW SHUCKS, JEEM. RAY LEWIS MIGHTA LOSS A STEP OR TWO, BUT YOU KNOW WHAT THEY SAW ABOUT HEEM: HE IS A BORN LEADER. THE RAVENS ARE INSPIRED, JEEM. THEY WANT TO GET RAY LEWIS TO THE SUPER BOWL ONE LAST TIME. THE WAY THEY WERE PLAYING THE LAST FEW WEEKS OF THE SEASON, THEY DIDN’T SEEM LIKE THEY WANTED IT. BUT NOW THEY DOOOOOO. RAY LEWIS HAS TAKEN THE RAVENS UNDER HIS WING AND HE IS CARRYING THEM.”

Meanwhile, a tight end blows past Ray in coverage.

A Colts victory could very well mean a Colts-Broncos matchup in the second round of the playoffs, and that brings with it its own set of headaches, but I’ll take even that over repeated weeks of the Ray Lewis Farewell March.