Ray Lewis wore a Super Bowl ring on his right hand and another on his left. On his face was the broad smile of a champion.
Lewis and the rest of the 2012 Baltimore Ravens received their Super Bowl rings Friday night during a private ceremony at the team's training complex. Lewis retired after the Ravens beat San Francisco 34-31 to win the NFL championship, so the ring will serve as a memento of his 17th and final NFL season.
"There's no better way to go out," the star linebacker said. "I can hold this the rest of my life and know I went out as champ."
The oval-shape ring is made with white and yellow gold and contains 243 diamonds. In the center, a purple Ravens logo outlined with 40 diamonds sits over a pair of Lombardi Trophies. The Ravens won their other Super Bowl after the 2000 season, and Lewis was wearing the ring he received after that unforgettable season on his right hand.
"It took me 12 years to get back and get another ring," he said. "I want (my teammates) to cherish what this moment feels like right now, while we're world champs."
The gaudy ring isn't designed for everyday wear, but it makes an intriguing conversation piece.
"It's kind of un-wearable," said quarterback Joe Flacco, the Super Bowl MVP. "Over the next couple of days, when I go home — and probably over the next month — when I see people for the first time, I'm sure they're going to have some interest in seeing it. Or at least I'm going to have some interest in showing it off to them."
Super Bowl rings serve as a reward for the previous season and as keepsake that will last a lifetime. Many strive to get them, but only a select few actually own one, let alone two.
"I remember thinking so many great players, Hall of Famers, haven't had the opportunity to do what we did a few minutes ago," wide receiver Torrey Smith said. "To be amongst a pretty elite group as a team is something we'll never forget, and I'm thankful for it."
Each player received a ring with his name on the side. On the face of the ring, the words "WORLD CHAMPIONS" surround the left and right border. The piece of jewelry was so glitzy and symbolic, even the usually talkative Terrell Suggs was at a loss for words.
"It's surreal," the linebacker said. "It finally hit me, what exactly we accomplished together. It didn't take a year. It took me 11 years to get it. It finally paid off, all that blood given. There's not a word that describes what I'm feeling, and all the emotions."
Since that unforgettable win over the 49ers, several players have departed through free agency, others have been cut and a couple have retired (Lewis and center Matt Birk). Guard Bobbie Williams and special teams standout Brendon Ayanbadejo were both released in recent months, but they were in attendance and will forever be a part of the 2012 Super Bowl champs.
"We're still the champions until somebody wins it next year, so we'll try to enjoy it as long as we can," Ayanbadejo said.
Should the Ravens repeat, it will be with a different cast.
"It really symbolizes that this is the last time we're all going to be together as a team," Smith said, "so it's definitely a special moment."
Said Flacco: "All of us, from the time we were young, had dreams to play at this level and at some point, do this. Obviously, to reach that goal last year was something special. Just to be here tonight and celebrate it with your teammates, some guys who aren't here anymore and guys you're going to be battling against next year, is a lot of fun and definitely pretty special."