Thursday, October 4, 2012
Ray Lewis talks legacy, TV spot, future
By Lynn Hoppes
More than 7 million people have viewed the video online of Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis answering questions from a little girl in a TV commercial for Visa.
Viewers are struck by the cuteness of the girl, but also by the warmth of Lewis, known as one of the toughest players in the NFL.
"It was just one of those good days for me," said Lewis, who is a 13-time Pro Bowler. "I didn't know the setup beforehand and saw what they wanted me to do. I said, 'This is cool. I got this.' "
Lewis said he's a changed man these days, enjoying life more as a 37-year-old father of six and not getting caught up in the drama that consumed his early 20s.
"I'm now thinking about my legacy. The game will fade. I'm thinking what impact did I leave on this earth?" said Lewis, who created a foundation for disadvantaged youths. "I want people to look back on me and see my passion on the field and my heart off the field."
That's why Lewis spends a lot of time at children's hospitals and supports police and military programs.
Ray Lewis, laughing with coach John Harbaugh, said this has been his favorite NFL season.
"You have to look outside the game," Lewis said, "and listen to the stories and the impact that it can have for you inside the game."
Lewis is making the promotional rounds for Visa as part of the NFL Fan Offers program. In the coming months, Visa will debut TV spots featuring other potential experiences, including sitting in on an NFL coach’s game-day speech (featuring San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh) and watching an NFL game on a Sunday with John Madden.
Lewis, who has played for the Ravens since 1996, said this season has been his most rewarding. The team's offense has propelled it to a 3-1 record, which is OK with the defensive-minded Lewis.
"Sometimes, I need to educate my boys never to get caught up in the wins and losses and to get caught up in the opportunity," Lewis said. "Don't carry too much on your shoulder. We need to be the light among the darkness. This year, I tell them to just be the light."