Haloti Ngata first announced his retirement in March atop Mount Kilimanjaro.
On Wednesday, he took another step in the process of officially stepping away from football by formally retiring as a member of the Baltimore Ravens.
The Ravens drafted Ngata No. 12 overall in the 2006 draft. The defensive tackle played nine of his 13 NFL seasons in Baltimore.
Ngata, 35, sat between former head coach Brian Billick and executive vice president and former general manager Ozzie Newsome. The two offered praise and shared memories of Ngata before team owner Steve Bisciotti announced he would join the Ravens’ Ring of Honor.
“There has only been a couple of guys since I have taken over – a handful of guys – that I have had the luxury to see in person and be able to tell you that we want you in our Ring of Honor. So, boys, prepare to watch your dad [get inducted]. But, that being said, you’re going to have to wait a little bit,” Bisciotti said, before turning to face Billick. “Because you are our next one, this year.”
Billick coached Baltimore from 1999-2007. He led the franchise to its first Super Bowl victory after the 2000 season.
“I just can’t tell you how humbled I am,” Billick said. “For us to have been here, and for the organization to do that and reach out, it means a great deal to us. It really does. To be a part of the organization back then, to know that it’s going to be a permanent fixture means a great deal to me, obviously. We have stayed here; it is home. And for John [Harbaugh] … John has been incredibly gracious to allow me to kind of hang around, and that’s not an easy thing to do.”
Bisciotti fired Billick after the Ravens went 5-11 in 2007 and endured a nine-game losing streak. The previous year had been Baltimore’s best regular season ever, 13-3.
Billick has remained in the area since his firing. He is a part of the Ravens’ broadcast team during preseason games and has spoken to the team during training camp.
“I talked to Brian a few months ago and told him how honored we would be and how lucky we are as an organization to have had [outstanding coaches],” Bisciotti said. “I wasn’t here with Ted [Marchibroda], but I was here with Brian and John [Harbaugh], and that continuity and the fact that you stayed in town and became such a great friend of John’s says so much about you and your family, and that you continue to share in this. I’m glad you stayed; it’s meant a lot to us.”
Billick will be induction this fall and Ngata’s ceremony will take place during the 2020 campaign.
Ngata made 258 tackles during nine seasons with the Ravens, with 25.5 sacks and five interceptions. He earned five trips to the Pro Bowl and two first-team All-Pro selections while anchoring the middle of Baltimore’s defensive line.
Ngata was a key piece in the Ravens’ 2012 Super Bowl-winning team.
“That’s just amazing. You see those names up in the stadium, and it’s just like, ‘Man, that will be really cool to be able to be one of those players, to see your name up there as a Ring of Honor Raven,” he said. “I’m just thankful and honored. Thank you, Steve [Bisciotti], for everything you’ve done for me and my family. I’m just excited, and I can’t wait to come back and get that ring and be a part of that family.”
Ngata became emotional at times during his retirement announcement. He laughed as he recalled being a starstruck rookie.
“I remember meeting Ray Lewis for the first time. Ray Lewis was like, ‘Hey, I called you. You didn’t answer. What’s up? Why didn’t you call me back?’ I just froze and got stuck,” Ngata said. “I was like, ‘Uhhh.’ I didn’t know what to say, because you meet your heroes, guys you looked up to, and I just said, ‘I’m so sorry, Mr. Lewis. I’ll call you next time.’ And he started laughing, like, ‘Don’t call me that. Call me Ray.’”
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