Last season—his 14th in the NFL, all with Baltimore—Lewis made the Pro Bowl for the 11th time
Dan Patrick:Can you get fired up for a preseason game?
Ray Lewis: I think you have to. You don't get totally in your zone zone when you know you're just going to play for a short time. But you do get fired up for that quick, quick, quick minute.
DP: Do you hit the same way you would during a regular-season game?
RL: There's only one way to hit. [Laughs.]
DP:Did you have a problem with Rex Ryan's language when he was the Ravens' defensive coordinator?
RL: With his language?
DP:Yeah, f bombs.
RL: Man, Rex is Rex. His personality is wide open.
DP:Tony Dungy took issue with it. I asked him if he'd hire someone who swore like Rex, and he said no.
RL: Rex is who he is, and Tony definitely has his opinion about things, with the life he lives. I'm kind of the same way: If a man is cursing at another man, then I truly look at that as a problem, no matter what your job title.
DP:Who would be the person to tell you if you've lost a step?
RL: Probably the people who have to deal with me every day.
DP:Do they say it to your face?
RL: It's hard to say it to your face when you're getting up from the bottom [of the pile].
DP: [Laughs.] Have you lost a step?
RL: You only lose a step when you try to accomplish things that people make unrealistic. The game of football is the game of football. And from sideline to sideline—no disrespect to anyone in the business—but there's nobody who's going to beat me from sideline to sideline. That's a fact.
DP:Which running back is tougher to tackle: Adrian Peterson or Chris Johnson?
RL: Whoo. Both of them are rough. Both of those talents are awesome. They're very different. AP is a bruiser. And Chris Johnson is a cat on two feet. Catching him is the problem.
DP:Which of the two would you rather face?
RL: I'll dance with any one of them.
DP:Who gives you grief during a game?
RL: I'm always going at it with somebody because I'm going to initiate it most of the time. It's the fun of the game. It's that personal. You believe you're going to have success running the ball, and I believe you're not. So I feel I have a couple of words on that topic.
DP:Last time you talked about retirement?
RL: Haven't. I love the game too much. I respect the game too much. To be in one city your whole life. . . . No feeling gets better than when I walk out of that tunnel. If that changed, then you think about [retiring]. But when you're at the top of your game like I am now, you love it.
DP:Who is the best middle linebacker in football?
RL: Some things are better not spoken.
DP:Don't get humble on me, Ray.
RL: I'm always humble. [Laughs.] I told you, it's just my other side.
DP: T.O. to the Bengals with Ochocinco—good move?
RL: Twice a year, that's all I can tell you.
DP:You can pop one of them—which one do you choose?
RL: No. I can pop both of them. [Laughs.]
• HIgher Calling
Last week 49ers running back Glen Coffee, the team's third-round pick in the 2009 draft, abruptly retired to pursue a career in the ministry. "I actually thought I should have been done in college," Coffee, 23, said. "That's why I left [college] early. I was done with football, but I thought if I was getting paid, I would be able to tolerate it. In the end, that couldn't happen. My heart wasn't in the right place. When you're not at peace with yourself, it's kind of hard to minister to others."
• Fair Play
Former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson is no stranger to handling players with big egos and personalities, and he thinks the Vikings are being too accommodating with Brett Favre, who rejoined the team midway through training camp. "All of our star players, I expected them to be on time," Johnson said. "When you anoint someone as a savior, the rest of the players say, 'What about me?'"
• Line of the week
New Tennessee coach Derek Dooley addressed South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier's intimation that the Vols dropped North Carolina from their schedule out of fear: "I guess I wouldn't be an offical member of the SEC if Coach Spurrier hasn't taken a shot at our program."
THE FINE PRINT: Miami will open the 2010--11 NBA season in Boston. ESPN will host a one-hour special in which LeBron decides where he'll go for chowder.
Now Hear This
Listen to the podcasts at danpatrick.com/interviews
1. Josh Hamilton discusses his new approach to hitting.
2. Tony Stewart on NASCAR's maligned Chase format.
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY (PATRICK)
KYLE TERADA/US PRESSWIRE (COFFEE)
DON MCPEAK/US PRESSWIRE (DOOLEY)
TOM DIPACE (LEWIS)