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News » Baltimore Ravens Inside Slant 2009-03-27

Baltimore Ravens Inside Slant 2009-03-27

Baltimore Ravens Inside Slant 2009-03-27
In his first press conference since re-signing with the Ravens, linebacker Ray Lewis repeatedly said Baltimore was always his first choice in free agency.

"My family is Baltimore. My family is the purple. My family is the fans," Lewis said during a half-hour interview session with local reporters. "The bottom line: Was there ever a decision for me to leave Baltimore? I don't think so.

I didn't visit anyone else's facility. That would have taken away from what I do for my city. When I put on that purple jersey on my back, I give everything that I have for every freakin' fan that's in the stands."

Before Lewis signed his seven-year, $44.5 million contract (which is essentially a three-year, $22 million deal), he irritated some of his fan base when he didn't make it clear that he wanted to return to the Ravens.

A few days before the Pro Bowl, Lewis acknowledged in an interview with the NFL Network that he would be interested in both the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Jets.

But Lewis said at the press conference: "At the Pro Bowl, you have a couple of Mai Tais (and) you just have a freakin' great time. They ask you questions, and you answer the questions."

Then, leading up to the start of free agency, Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware said Lewis told him that it was his "dream" to play in Dallas and expressed his desire to sign there numerous times.

According to Lewis, he told Ware that he dreamed of playing for the Cowboys when he was nine years old.

"Dallas has their own legacy," Lewis said. "My legacy is with Baltimore. It's going to end with Baltimore."

Lewis didn't directly answer a question whether there were any teams that contacted him. He acknowledged he spoke to the Ravens more than any other team in free agency.

It is believed that the Jets chose to sign former Ravens linebacker Bart Scott instead and the Cowboys never expressed interest.

"A lot of things can be flirtatious," Lewis said. "But the bottom line is how far are you willing to flirt. I didn't go that far. I was OK flirting with the woman I started with -- and that's the Ravens."

The delay in Lewis re-signing with the Ravens -- he waited six days into free agency to do so -- also caused many to wonder if the two-time NFL defensive player of the year truly wanted to end his career with the team.

According to owner Steve Bisciotti, the Ravens offered Lewis a contract "higher than most 33-year-olds ever see" at the end of the season. Lewis wanted to test free agency for the first time in his 13-year career and asked the team to keep the offer on the table.

"He gave us 13 years; we gave him a week," Bisciotti said. "He went out there to see if he could get a lot more. No, he really didn't want to leave. But if somebody is going to offer him $10 million more over three years, I would tell him to go. There was no animosity."

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: March 27, 2009

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