It’s been 11 years now for 36-year-old Ray Lewis.
To add some context, many Baltimore fans that were in elementary school when the Ravens won their first and only Lombardi Trophy are now graduating college or are firmly part of the greater D.C. work force.
It’s been seven years for 34-year-old Tom Brady.
To add some context, no one had yet heard of the term SpyGate and Gisele Bundchen was just some unattainable supermodel that most football followers had never heard of.
Ed Reed, 33, will go down as one of, if not the, finest safety to ever play in the league. But he is ringless.
Lewis, Brady and Reed are three of the greatest players to ever play their respective positions but a win this Sunday and another one in two weeks would end a lot of debates.
The three players will also be competing against the ghosts of playoffs past and the elite in NFL history this Sunday (3 p.m., CBS). All three are certainly aware of the stakes and that this opportunity won’t be there in, say, 2015 or ’16.
“It’s kind of hard to think about Father Time,” Lewis said. “I don’t have time to think about when it’s over to do this or when it’s time to do that. When it’s over, it’s over. Everybody here has to appreciate that great warriors fight until the end. Those are the ones you remember.”
Brady, in his Belichickian podiumspeak, had this to say:
“This is nothing about last week or last season or last month or 10 years ago,” Brady told WEEI sports radio. “It’s about this week. The clock’s ticking. And every second that goes by, we’re one second closer to getting to that game.”
Perhaps Reed said it most succinct:
“I’m getting old,” Reed told Sports Illustrated this week. “I understand it. One day it won’t be me up here. It’ll be another safety in Baltimore.”
Despite being in their mid-30s, Ray Lewis, Tom Brady and Ed Reed each had superb 2011 seasons:
Ray Lewis still managed to post 95 tackles in 2011 despite missing four games due to a toe injury.
Tom Brady was the NFL MVP in 2010 but put up even better numbers in 2011. Brady passed for 5,235 yards and 39 TDs this past year.
Ed Reed set the tone for the Ravens’ 2011 season with two interceptions against Pittsburgh on opening day.