All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens announced that he intends to retire at season’s end yesterday.  Lewis, who tore his triceps two months ago, will likely return to action this Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts to help kick-start one last run at the Super Bowl.  Many questioned whether or not he would be able to return to action at all this season when the injury occurred and now he’ll be able to provide an emotional lift one last time as the leader of the Ravens.  Unless the AFC playoffs have some upsets, this Sunday could be Lewis’ final game in Baltimore.

The Baltimore Ravens came into existence in 1996 and with it came a rookie linebacker out of Miami.  Selected 26th overall, Ray Lewis went on to lead the team in tackles and thus started what will assuredly be a Hall of Fame career.  The 13x Pro Bowl defender helped bring Baltimore its one and only Super Bowl so far and was the MVP of the game in 2000.  With 10 All-Pro selections (seven of which for the first team) Ray Lewis is tied with Lawrence Taylor for the most All-Pro selections for linebackers.  He was never a very flashy player and never played selfishly.  Lewis is the epitome of a leader on an NFL team and has been the face of the Ravens for well over a decade.  His unselfish play paid off with consistent winning and two Defensive Player of the Year awards.  He will leave the league being remembered as one of the most respected and feared men to ever play.  My favorite stat when it comes to this legendary defender?  Lewis led his team in tackles in 14 of his 17 seasons and the three that he didn’t were because he missed extended time due to injury.  With his unbridled passion and emotion, I can say us NFL fans have one last thing to look forward to.  He’s going to make one hell of a Hall of Fame speech when he gets inducted.

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• When I watched the Florida State trouncing of Northern Illinois earlier this week, they ran a preview for (3) Florida vs. (21) Louisville in the Sugar Bowl.  Those I was watching the game with questioned the logic behind a 21st ranked team facing the number three team in a Bowl game.  Louisville went ahead and shut all the critics up last night as they dismantled the Gators 33-23.  This was one of those games where the final score does not indicate just how lopsided the game itself was.  The Cardinals jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and led 24-10 at halftime.  QB Teddy Bridgewater led the way with 266 yards through the air and two touchdowns in the upset which is obviously a big victory for the Cardinals and the Big East but also a very telling loss for Florida and the SEC.

• Chris Paul and Vinny Del Negro earned some regular season hardware after the Los Angeles Clippers went undefeated for the month of December.  Chris Paul won Western Conference Player of the Month while Del Negro won Coach of the Month.  Not a tough job for Del Negro considering it’s probably not all too difficult a task for him.  He has the best point guard in the NBA in Chris Paul running the league’s most prolific offense with an improved defense along with it.  The Clippers dominated by winning their games by an average margin of nearly 16 points per game in December as Paul averaged 2.6 steals a game.  CP3 also led the West in assists per game with 9.3 last month to go with 16 points per.

• The Oklahoma City Thunder were involved in a rare blowout loss yesterday as the Brooklyn Nets defeated them 110-93.  What’s really surprising was their MVP candidate Kevin Durant losing his cool and being given his first career ejection.  The Thunder managed to crawl back from an early 23 point deficit but the Nets responded with a 23-8 run to help pull away again.  A rare loss of control happened for Durant as he argued with referee Danny Crawford after teammate Kendrick Perkins was issued a technical foul.  Durant was displeased with how one-sided the fouls seemed to be called in the game (Brooklyn shot 29 free throws as compared to the Thunder's 17) as he claims he was thrown out for telling Crawford that he made a "bad call."

• Another seemingly pivotal deadline has come and passed for the NHL and their monotonous labor dispute.  The NHLPA claimed they would file a disclaimer of interest - effectively dissolving the Union - at midnight but nothing as of yet has happened.  Unfortunately for them and the NHL itself, it seems as though the fans filed a disclaimer of interest when it comes to this garbage a long time ago.  The two sides met all day Wednesday as they continued to try and hash out the details of a new collective bargaining agreement.  Should there be another stall in negotiations, which as this point seems inevitable, look for the players to decertify and further cement the likelihood of a lost NHL season.

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