Ray Lewis has officially retired from the NFL as a Baltimore Raven. However, the team is trading him one last time, to ESPN. Lewis has been in talks with the network ever since announcing he would be retiring and now executives have announced he will join the 24-hour sports channel in the fall as an NFL analyst.
ESPN president John Skipper confirmed the hiring while in New York City to promote ESPN Films' new documentary series. According to Skipper, Lewis will play a significant role next fall in ESPN's Monday Night Countdown program and will also appear on Sunday NFL Countdown and SportsCenter. A formal announcement has yet to be made due to the contracts still being worked out.
"We had an opportunity last fall to get Ray and we debated internally some of the history. Obviously, we decided we were comfortable with it. We must have because we did it. I will tell you we did remind ourselves of some of the issues. We sort of decided that the NFL welcomed him back into the fold and the fans welcomed him back into the fold. I think we are fine with second chances and we think he will make great television," Skipper said to SI.com.
It is normal that around this time newly retired players begin to make plans with networks to help with their football coverage. Many retired athletes jump on as analysts or reports for their respective sport. Lewis was drawing attention from CBS Sports, Fox Sports, NBC Sports, The NFL Network before deciding upon ESPN.
"Ray Lewis has an intensity about him and a way communicating that is very infectious," CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said.
Lewis had some contract requirements he insisted upon before ultimately making his choice. He wanted flexibility with his schedule so that he could attend his son's football games. Lewis III will be a freshman at University of Miami next fall where he will play either running back or defensive back. Lewis also attended Miami before entering into the NFL. Depending on his personal schedule, Lewis will work a lot of Sundays from Bristol, CT where ESPN is located. He is not expected to become a regular contributor until the NFL officially kicks off next season.