Last week something weird happened; Ray Lewis announced that this was his “last ride” and would retire after the playoffs. I immediately began to dread the inevitable. I knew the moment he announced it that we were on a collision course for another Manning-Lewis classic match-up somewhere down the line, which I always look forward to. This will be the last time, the final act in an amazing play. Their previous match-ups have always been fun; watching them match each other audible for audible, adjustment for adjustment. It was always a violent ballet, a mental chess match between two of the greatest at their positions.
There’s an additional wrinkle. Those of you that have ever talked football with me know my 15 years of cheering against Peyton Manning. As I have previously written, I can’t just flip a switch and cheer for him simply because he is wearing the Broncos logo. Have I softened a bit over the course of the season, even catching myself cheering for him at times? Absolutely. You can’t help but get swept up in winning. This situation is a little different, though. My hope was that Ray Lewis would win one more Super Bowl, retire alongside Ed Reed and then go see them inducted into the Hall of Fame together. It really isn’t a far-fetched dream.
So I sit here today, essentially torn as to which dream I want more. There’s no guarantee that either team will make it to or win the Super Bowl, but there’s a good chance one of these two teams can do it. What do I want more though, a third Super Bowl title in Denver? Or do I want Ray Lewis to go out on top, similar to John Elway? As much as I want sports to be easy, it never is. One thing is for sure, Saturday evening will come and they will step on the field against each other. Three hours later I will be pumped, but also disappointed.
Regardless, I will watch with a smile on one side and a tear down the other. This is why we love sports…