New England safety Steve Gregory added, “He’s one of the greats. He’s probably one of the best linebackers ever to play this game. So we have a lot of respect for that guy. He’s an amazing football player.”
This game will mark the final showdown between Lewis and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. In nine games against New England, Lewis has 84 tackles — including 12 in last year’s AFC title game.
“He’s really been so consistent over the years and durable and tough,” Brady said of Lewis. “He’s so instinctive. He doesn’t give up hardly any plays, makes a ton of tackles. ... You always have to know where No. 52 is.”
Soon, you won’t be able to find Lewis on the football field. His teammates haven’t abandoned hope of trying to convince him otherwise.
“I told him to stay a few more years,” Jones said. “I think he could.”
But Ngata conceded, “I think he has bigger plans and bigger things that he has to do.”
Walking off the field in Denver with running back Ray Rice last Saturday, Lewis was delighted to still be playing football and apparently not the least bit saddened about knowing he had one or two games left.
“I’m proud that the ride is still going,” Lewis said Wednesday. “I looked at my teammates after the Denver game, and me and Ray just sat there. We hugged on the field, and he grabbed me kind of hard. It’s just special. To end it, whenever it ends, then so be it.”
AP Sports Writers Howard Ullman and Howard Fendrich contributed to this report.