The end of the Ray Lewis era will come much sooner than Baltimore Ravens fans would have hoped. But, seriously, its been 17 years already!

Lewis announced on Wednesday that he would retire after the season, just days before his Ravens host the Colts in the NFL's Wild-Card Playoff game this Sunday.

Oh, by the way, the future Hall of Famer who hasn't played since October with a torn triceps says he will be in uniform and on the field to welcome rookie QB Andrew Luck to the postseason.

Aside from any nightmares he gives opposing coaches, quarterbacks and especially running backs, No. 52 has undoubtedly left an imprint on the league - a 13 time Pro-Bowler, a seven-time member of the First Team All-Pro defense, with 41.5 sacks, 31 interceptions, a two time Defensive Player of the Year (2000,2003) and a Super Bowl MVP award (only the second linebacker to ever earn that honor).

He is the epitome of a team's heart and soul. From his passionate and emotional pre-game and in-game speeches, to his lead by example work ethic and hustle on the field.

Not to mention that he's spent all 17 seasons with the same club. How many players in any sport can say that in today's age of free agency?

Personally, I'm a New York Giants fan, but fans of any team can respect and appreciate his athletic and defensive talents, and his on field leadership. But, for a guy who is so tough and physical, his calling card is a dance?

Yeah.

I'll never forget watching Lewis' entrance at Super Bowl 35. I was all hyped up to watch my team in the big game! But, honestly, as soon as I saw this dance, I knew my G-men were going to lose that day. I though to myself - '...this defense is too good, and there's no way this guy is going to let his team lose!' (he's the last defensive player announced at 2:35 mark)...