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Peyton Manning could follow in footsteps of Ray Lewis, John Elway with retirement after Super Bowl win 02.01.16 at 1:43 pm ET
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There’s been plenty of talk about how Sunday could mark the “last rodeo” for Peyton Manning. If he finds a way to lead the Broncos to a win over Carolina and then calls it a career, he’ll join some pretty exclusive company. Here’s a look at four other players who won it all and then decided to hang them up.

Jerome Bettis: After a decade with the Steelers, the Pittsburgh running back was a part of a team that ended up dumping the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL in Bettis’ hometown of Detroit. (Did you know Bettis was from Detroit?) It wasn’t the best game of his career, but the Hall of Famer had 43 yards on 14 carries in the win for the Steelers. The running back retired at the age of 33 with 13,662 rushing yards and a Super Bowl ring.

Ray Lewis: The Ravens beat the Niners in Super Bowl XLVII, the last game for Lewis after a 17-year career with Baltimore. (That came two weeks after the Ravens upset the Patriots in the AFC title game in Foxboro.) The controversial linebacker, who may or may not have had some help getting healthy with some deer antler spray in the weeks leading up to the game, ended with two Super Bowl rings.

John Elway: The model for every other quarterback, including Manning. Elway went out like every quarterback hopes to finish his career, winning back-to-back titles at the end of the 1997 and 1998 seasons before riding off into the sunset. The Hall of Famer then came back to take over the Broncos, and he reportedly played a sizable role in convincing Manning to join the Broncos. (Manning supplanted him as the oldest quarterback to get his team to a Super Bowl, and if Denver wins on Sunday, Manning will take over Elway’s spot as the oldest QB to win a Super Bowl.)

Michael Strahan: Avert your eyes, Patriots fans — the Giants defensive end was part of the New York team that knocked off the 2007 Patriots in Super Bowl XLII in Arizona. (Like Bettis, it was his only title.) Strahan called it a career after the game, finishing with 141.5 sacks after 15 seasons in the NFL.

Read More: Andre Johnson, Bill Belichick, Jerome Bettis, Michael Strahan
Ray Lewis clarifies comments: ‘I have immense respect for Tom Brady and everything he has achieved in this league’ 01.15.15 at 2:42 pm ET
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In what has turned into a Ray Lewis talking about Tom Brady sideshow leading up to the AFC championship game — after Brady took the high road on Thursday when asked of Lewis’ comments, Lewis seems to have done the same.

After going on radio on Wednesday saying the tuck rule game is “the only reason we know who Tom Brady is,” Lewis clarified what he meant on Twitter Thursday afternoon.

Lewis tweeted: To clarify my comments from this week: I was trying to express my frustration about the ruck rule itself… Rules like that should not be part of the game. They lead to controversial plays that impact the outcomes of games and that what everyone remembers, especially when you’re talking about playoff games. I have immense respect for Tom Brady and everything he has achieved in this league. He will go down as one of the all-time greats.

Now that Lewis’ sideshow is over, we can focus on football and the game that actually matters — Sunday’s AFC championship between the Patriots and the Colts at Gillette Stadium, where Brady will be playing for his sixth Super Bowl appearance.

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Read More: 2015 playoffs, Ray Lewis, Tom Brady,
Tom Brady refuses to get down and dirty with Ray Lewis over tuck rule at 12:57 pm ET
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Tom Brady had many verbal battles with Ray Lewis in their time together. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Tom Brady had many verbal battles with Ray Lewis in their time together. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Just four days before his record ninth appearance in the AFC championship, Tom Brady isn’t about to get distracted by anyone, not even old friend Ray Lewis. That’s why Brady would not fire back at the former Ravens linebacker and self-proclaimed “football historian” for saying Brady would be a nobody without the “tuck rule” helping him win his first career playoff game in Jan. 2002.

Brady, informed of the comments by Patriots spokesman Stacey James, took the high road Thursday at his press conference.

“Everyone has an opinion,” Brady said. “I think Ray is a great player. He’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer. I was fortunate enough to play against him.”

Brady has a bloodshot right eye, courtesy the eye gouge from Ravens defensive end Timmy Jernigan Saturday night. Did Lewis ever try the eye gouge maneuver?

“No maybe worse than that, maybe worse. He was a pretty tough player,” said Brady.

Lewis, appearing Monday on SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio, was asked about the fourth-quarter reception by Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant against the Packers last Sunday that was overturned on appeal because he didn’t complete the process of the catch as he went to the ground.

“There are so many rules in this game that is a very simple game,” Lewis said. “My argument, If you want to make this game and keep this game pure so where integrity drives this game, leave all these man-made lawyer rules out of the game.

“The only reason we know who Tom Brady is, [it’s] because of the tuck rule. There’s no such thing as the tuck rule! If the ball is in your hand, and I knock it out of your hand — whether it’s going backwards, forwards, lateral, sideways, however it’s coming out – that’s a freaking fumble,” Lewis said. “But guess what we created? We created a freaking tuck rule!”

The tuck rule was eventually eliminated by NFL owners in 2013, but to this day, Lewis said Brady owes his fame to the fact it existed in 2001, when Charles Woodson‘s strip sack was overturned.

As for Jernigan, Brady said sarcastically, “it was a good move. You can’t even do that in pro wrestling.”

Read More: 2015 playoffs, Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots, Ray Lewis
Ray Lewis: ‘The only reason we know who Tom Brady is [is] because of a tuck rule’ 01.14.15 at 11:08 am ET
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He’s not playing anymore, but Ray Lewis still is a thorn in the side of Tom Brady.

The former Ravens linebacker took at shot at Brady during an appearance on Stephen A. Smith’s radio show this week, implying the tuck rule enabled Brady’s success.

Smith and Lewis were discussing the catch by Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant in Sunday’s game against the Packers that was overturned on review when Lewis turned the discussion to Brady and the controversial overturned fumble call in the AFC divisional playoff game against the Raiders on Jan. 19, 2002.

“Honest to God, the first time we created something called a tuck rule is the only reason we know — I’m just being honest — the only reason we know who Tom Brady is, because of a tuck rule,” Lewis said. “There’s no such thing as a tuck rule. If the ball is in your hand and I knock it out your hand, whether it’s going backwards, forwards, lateral, sideways — however it’s coming out, that’s a freakin’ fumble. But guess what we created? We created a freakin’ tuck rule. … Man, there are certain rules that should not be allowed to be in this game of football.”

Pressed to clarify his comment about Brady, Lewis didn’t back down.

“They don’t go to that championship game if that ball [isn’t] called a tuck,” Lewis said. “That’s a fumble. That man clearly fumbled the ball. And they named it a tuck rule — something we never heard in today’s game. So now you’ve got to ask yourself: When did the legacy really start?

“See, look, man, I’m a football historian. I love moments. I love moments. See a lot of people watch just the TV from the game and say, ‘Oh, that’s wrong, that’s wrong.’ Go back to the moment to when things started. That’s what I’m telling you.”

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Read More: Ray Lewis, Tom Brady,
Five things you have to know about the Ravens 12.17.13 at 7:15 pm ET
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The Patriots will try to close out the AFC East and put a major dent in the playoff hopes of the Ravens when they travel to Baltimore for a Sunday afternoon contest. Here are five things you have to know about the Ravens.

1. They almost always do a really good job at defending Tom Brady.

Old warhorses like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are no longer around, but the Ravens remain are as stout as they come defensively. There are some questions about their ability to close defensively — they’€™ve allowed 96 points in the fourth quarter this season, the most of any AFC team still in the playoff chase — but there’€™s still a lot to like about what they’€™re doing. They’€™re in the top 10 when it comes to total defense (334 yards per game allowed, ninth-best in the league), run defense (102.4 rush yards per game allowed, seventh-best in the league) and points per game allowed (19.8 per game, seventh-best in the league). They are one team that consistently makes things difficult for Brady, who is 2-3 against them in his last five games. Over the course of his career, the quarterback averages 57 percent when it comes to his completion rate, and has a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 8-10 in his career against Baltimore. (According to Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders, the Ravens have held Brady under 6.8 YPA in six of eight career meetings.) With New England facing a dicey situation when it comes to offensive line depth, particular at tackle, the pressure off the edges will be a concern — old friend Terrell Suggs (9 sacks) figures to have something to say about this one before the week is done, and Elvis Dumervil (9.5 sacks) should also be a handful for the Patriots offensive line.

2. They have almost as much experience playing close games this season as the Patriots.

When the Patriots and Ravens meet Sunday, chances are good that it’€™ll be a close game. Eleven of the 14 games New England has played this year have been decided by seven points or less, while Baltimore has played in 10 games decided by seven points or less. The Ravens have gone 5-5 in their games decided by a touchdown or less, while the Patriots are 7-4. Baltimore has won their last three games by a total of seven points, which includes Monday’€™s win over the Lions, a contest that wasn’€™t decided until Justin Tucker connected on his sixth field goal of the night, a 61-yarder than lifted the Ravens to an 18-16 win. All that comes against a backdrop of almost nothing but close games between these two teams — since 2004, five of the eight games between Patriots and Ravens have been decided by six points or less. Expect another close one come Sunday afternoon.

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Read More: Ed Reed, Jacoby Jones, joe flacco, Justin Tucker
Ray Lewis on Aaron Hernandez: ‘New England had to know something’ 09.08.13 at 1:11 pm ET
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Newly retired Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis made quite the debut for ESPN on Sunday. During his first appearance on ESPN’s pregame show, Lewis weighed in on Aaron Hernandez and what he believes the Patriots should have known about their former tight end now accused of first-degree murder.

During a roundtable discussion with Cris Carter, Keyshawn Johnson and Tom Jackson, Lewis said the Patriots should have sensed that Hernandez, who remains in jail after pleading not guilty following him being arrested and charged with allegedly murdering Odin Lloyd, was headed down the wrong path.

“I want to make sure we clear something up because we have to do this for our brand of the National Football League: Our numbers are very small when it comes to the pain and the crime that happens in everyday America, the numbers of athletes that get in trouble,” Lewis said. “New England had to know something, just like 31 other teams had to know something about Aaron Hernandez’s background, and that’s your red flag. Now, it’s up to you to say, ‘You know what, I’m still going to try that.'”

Jackson then said someone with the Patriots should have had information about Hernandez’s activities from his high school and college days to sound alarm bells.

“Someone had to know this kid was heading toward incarceration,” Jackson said. “I think the mistake they made the thought was if we give him the money is it will help to straighten him out. But when they gave him the money, he only spiraled further out of control because he had the money.”

Patriots owner Robert Kraft, on hand in Orchard Park for the Patriots’ season opener, has said he and the organization were “duped” by Hernandez when they signed him to a $40 million contract extension before the 2012 season.

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Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Art Modell, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills
Catching up with … the Ravens 08.07.13 at 9:25 am ET
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As we count down to the start of preseason games, we take a look at all 13 opponents on the Patriots’€™ regular-season schedule and break down each one of them. We’€™ve already featured the Bills, Jets and Dolphins, as well as the Buccaneers, Falcons, Bengals, Saints, Steelers, Panther, Broncos, Texans and Browns. Now, we wrap up with the Ravens.

Specifics: Christmas is coming early for Patriots fans, who get to watch the team visit the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens in another prime-time matchup on Dec. 22.

Say goodbye to ‘€¦ linebacker Ray Lewis, wide receiver Anquan Boldin, defensive back Ed Reed, defensive back Bernard Pollard, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, defensive end Paul Kruger, defensive back Cary Williams.

Welcome ‘€¦ defensive end Elvis Dumervil, tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, linebacker Rolando McClain, safety Matt Elam, linebacker Daryl Smith, linebacker Arthur Brown, defensive back Michael Huff.

Recent history: The game most prevalent in everyone’€™s mind will be, of course, Baltimore’€™s 28-13 win in the AFC championship last January. The Patriots’€™ 13-7 halftime lead quickly evaporated as Joe Flacco threw for three second-half touchdowns en route to the Ravens outscoring the Pats 21-0 in the final two quarters.

Playoffs included, the teams have split their six games since the start of the 2009 season. New England last came out on top in the January 2012 AFC championship, when Tom Brady ‘€” who threw for 239 yards and no touchdowns ‘€” ran it in from one yard out for the eventual game-winning touchdown.

The Patriots should be worried because ‘€¦ well, you never want to discount the defending champs, right? Baltimore will be without a number of its biggest names on defense from a year ago ‘€” Lewis, Reed, Ellerbe and Pollard among them ‘€” but the Ravens re-tooled and could be even better this time around. They added Dumervil, a Pro Bowler, took Elam and Brown in the draft’€™s top two rounds and signed a reliable veteran in Huff. Just a few weeks into training camp, the defensive corps’€™ early showing has Ravens players and coaches alike clamoring about the potential.

The Patriots shouldn’€™t be worried because ‘€¦ in tearing apart its Super Bowl-winning core, the Ravens also lost significant contributors in its passing game. They traded Boldin to the 49ers, then lost Dennis Pitta for the year due to a hip injury, and now are facing Ed Dickson missing time with a hamstring tear. As it is right now, Torrey Smith is the No. 1 receiver with Jacoby Jones backing him up. Flacco, who despite signing a six-year, $120.6 million contract still is in the middle of the pack in terms of quarterback rating, completion percentage and yards per game, could have some trouble.

The skinny: The average margin of victory in the teams’€™ last nine games spanning the last decade is eight points, with five of those contests being decided by a field goal or less. The personnel has changed aplenty in that time, of course, but the message should be to sit back and enjoy the ride. January’€™s season-ending loss could serve the Patriots well in the motivation department.

Read More: joe flacco, Ray Lewis, Tom Brady,
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