- (Photo: Reuters/Jeff Haynes)
Ray Lewis ended his 17-year NFL career with his second Super Bowl ring on Sunday and made sure to let the world know that God had a hand in his career ending on a victorious note.
After Lewis and his team defeated the San Francisco 49ers in a 34-31 Super Bowl win, he took to the CBS podium to describe ending his career as a champion.
"It's simple: when God is for you, who can be against you?" Lewis said.
Although some people may question the legitimacy of God determining the outcome of an NFL championship game, a recent study released by the Public Religion Research Institute revealed that 27 percent of Americans believe God plays a role in the big game.
"In an era where professional sports are driven by dollars and statistics, significant numbers of Americans see a divine hand at play," said Robert P. Jones, CEO of PRRI, in a statement. "Roughly 3-in-10 Americans believe that God plays a role in determining which team wins, and a majority (53 percent) believe that God rewards faithful athletes."
Lewis has never shied away from speaking about his Christian faith and how it has determined the close of his NFL career. Before returning from nursing a torn right tricep since October for his first postseason victory against the Indianapolis Colts, the 13-time Pro Bowler credited God for helping him decide to end his career.
''God is calling. My children have made the ultimate sacrifice for their father for 17 years," Lewis said in a press conference. "I don't want to see them do that no more. I've done what I wanted to do in this business, and now it's my turn to give them something back.''
After defeating the Colts in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, Lewis pulled off his jersey to reveal a sleeveless black shirt that read "Psalms 91." Following the win that began his postseason journey, Lewis told a room full of media personnel that God's will was taking place.
"I'll tell anybody. One thing about God's will, you can never see God's will before it happens," Lewis said. "You can only see at the end of it. For His will to happen this way, I could never ask for anything else."
When the Ravens won the AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots, Lewis made sure to give God credit for the victory that would carry his team into the Super Bowl.
"I just said that God doesn't make mistakes." Lewis told his team in the Gillette Stadium visitors' locker room following the big win. "He's never made one mistake. There was no way that He was going to bring us back here twice to feel that same feeling. We're back, but this time we're on our way to the Super Bowl."
John Harbaugh, Ravens head coach, even seemed to believe that there was a divine power working within his linebacker and their team.
"I'm just feeling an incredible amount of awe in the work that God can do in one man's life. To me, Ray is the epitome of that. Ray is a guy that has turned everything over. He's surrendered everything and become the man that he is today and he's a different man then he was at 22," Harbaugh said of Lewis, the linebacker who has been a Raven since 1996.
"Everybody sees that right now and it's a great thing for kids to see, it's a great thing for fathers to see. It's a great thing for athletes to see. It's a very special deal," Harbaugh added.
Despite a power outage shifting the momentum from the Ravens, who led the 49ers in the first half of the Super Bowl, the devout Christian managed to close his career with his second championship ring.
While the linebacker glorified God for his most recent victory, Lewis made sure to speak about how much it meant to earn his last ring with his teammates.
"It's no greater way as a champ to go out on your last ride with the men that I went out with," Lewis said on the CBS podium.