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Colts coach Chuck Pagano, who was Baltimore’s defensive coordinator in 2011, said Lewis was like an extension of the coaching staff on the field

“No one studied the game and prepared the way as well as Ray,” Pagano said. “He taught so many how to do that. He’s such a great mentor and such a great leader in that respect. He always had great insight and great perspective of not only going into a game but then what was transpiring in a game on the football field and then communicate it to not only myself, but many coordinators before me.”

When Lewis traveled to his home state of Florida to begin rehabbing his torn triceps, his right arm was wrapped in a cast. Though he was hurt, he got to do something he hadn’t done through the majority of his NFL career, and that was watching a significant amount of his sons’ football games. Two of his sons, including Ray Lewis III, played on the same high school team, which finished its season 11-1.

There will be one more opportunity this postseason for Lewis to cement his legacy as the game’s greatest middle linebacker. Then Lewis will become a full-time father, devoting as much time to his children as he can.

“Me, being who I am and not having a father myself, that damaged me a lot,” Lewis said. “I didn’t want my kids to relive that.”