Ray Lewis was named a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Tuesday, which marks the five-year anniversary of another memorable day for the former Baltimore Ravens linebacker.
On Jan. 2, 2013, Lewis announced to his teammates that he was retiring at the end of that season, saying it was going to be his "last ride." With some players using this as inspiration, Baltimore sent out Lewis as a champion, winning the Super Bowl a month later.
Lewis' retirement speech to the team still strikes an emotional chord with those who witnessed it.
"I remember I was in tears," linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "I thought he was going to say, 'We're in the playoffs. Let's go on this run.' Standard Ray Lewis banter. But it wasn't. He was like, 'It's time for me to do something else.' It set in that I wasn't going to play with him anymore. You have to understand, it's one of the most shocking things I've ever heard in my life. Then, we went on to do something special."
Lewis was a 13-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time Super Bowl champion. He was also one of six players to win NFL Defensive Player of the Year twice (2000, 2003), recording 100 tackles in eight seasons.
Among the 15 Hall finalists, Lewis is one of four trying to reach Canton, Ohio, in their first year of eligibility. Wide receiver Randy Moss, linebacker Brian Urlacher and offensive lineman Steve Hutchinson were the others.
There can be as many as five modern-era finalists who can make up the Hall of Fame's Class of 2018 in addition to this year's seniors nominees (Robert Brazile and Jerry Kramer) and contributors nominee Bobby Beathard.
The seniors and contributor nominees are voted on separately from the modern-era finalists and are considered on a yes-or-no basis. At the meeting of the board of selectors the day before Super Bowl LII, the list of modern-era finalists will be trimmed to 10 and then to five. The remaining five finalists will then be chosen, with at least 80 percent of the 48-person committee having to vote yes.
"It is time for me to create a new legacy," Lewis said five years ago.
Lewis can officially be elected to the Hall of Fame on Feb. 3, which is the five-year anniversary of Baltimore beating San Francisco in the Super Bowl.
"I do remember him saying to us that this playoff run was oigng to be his last ride," kicker Justin Tucker said. "I remember standing there as a rookie in the NFL about to go into the postseason and I didn't necessarily know what all that entailed. But, looking back now, I can say now that I got to be part of history. To send Ray out with a Super Bowl ring was the way to go."