Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis addresses the media in preparation for Super Bowl XLVII.
Ray Lewis wants a storybook ending in Sunday’s Super Bowl. Win the big game, two-step one last glorious dance and saunter slowly into the sunset — or, as Saturday Night Live suggested, ascend into heaven from the 50-yard line.
It’s the American dream, dressed up in shiny helmet and shoulder pads: Make your last act a dramatic victory, preferably in the final, frantic moments, and exit stage right from the game’s grandest stage.
Lewis, 37, emerged over 17 seasons as one of the NFL’s all-time great linebackers. If his Baltimore Ravens win, he’d muscle his way into an exclusive club of sports heroes who memorably won championships in their last go-rounds. They include the likes of Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway, Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling and Olympic gymnast Kerri Strug.
“It’s everybody’s dream,” Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin says, “to ride off on a white horse after winning” the Big One. The very notion of it promises a gauzy blend of slow-mo endings from feel-good sports movies and the happily ever after of fairy tales.
“What makes the narrative trajectory of going out a champion so appealing is it gives the impression of going out on your own terms,” says Robert Thompson, founding director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University.
“Not because you were too old, not because your skills were beginning to wane, not because you didn’t still have game. You stopped because you decided to, leaving behind the implied promise of other great chapters that could have been.”
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