Longtime special teams captain Anthony Levine retires after 10 years with Ravens

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One of the longest-tenured Ravens is bidding farewell to football as a player.

Defensive back Anthony Levine announced his retirement on Wednesday, ending a 10-year run with Baltimore that began on the practice squad in 2012 and saw the 34-year-old become the longtime captain of one of the NFL’s best special teams units. The Ravens announced Levine — who was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent — will continue with the organization in a scouting and coaching assistant role for the 2022 season.

“It’s just an honor. It’s an honor to call yourself a Raven,” Levine said last August. “To be here this long, it says a lot about myself, it says a lot about the coaching staff and how they believe in me and my teammates. It’s an honor to still be going.”

Playing in 146 regular-season games for the Ravens — including a streak of 117 straight from 2013-20 — Levine was a 2010 undrafted free agent out of Tennessee State who spent the first two years of his career on Green Bay’s practice squad. After being waived by the Packers at the end of the 2012 preseason, Levine qcaught on with the Ravens and appeared in two games before sustaining a season-ending shoulder injury that kept him out of the 2012 postseason and Super Bowl XLVII. However, Levine returned in 2013 and became a mainstay on special teams, serving as the punt protector and annually finishing among the team leaders in special-teams tackles.

Though the 5-foot-11, 207-pound defensive back had previously seen some playing time on defense due to injuries, the perception of Levine changed with the 2016 arrival of six-time Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle, who didn’t understand why he wasn’t a part of the plans for defensive coordinator Dean Pees. From that point, the Ravens began using Levine as a dime back, a role in which he thrived for a few years. That was never more evident than the final game of the 2018 regular season when he registered two pass breakups on Cleveland’s final drive to secure a 26-24 win and Baltimore’s first AFC North division title since 2012.

Levine registered two interceptions, 16 pass breakups, and a forced fumble in his career.

“You look at our teams over the last couple years, when Levine’s in there, we’re a better defense,” Weddle said in 2018. “He just can do so much for us. He can play the run. He can match up with tight ends. He can match up with those scat running backs that maybe some of our linebackers have trouble covering, and he can go in there and lock them down. It creates matchups for us in a positive light. … He’s been amazing for us.”

Beyond his strong play on special teams and contributions as a dime back, Levine was known for his leadership with many young bubble players crediting his influence in helping them secure spots on the 53-man roster. He also remains active in the local community with his Anthony Levine 4Every1 Foundation, which is committed to “helping at-risk youth and their families build better futures through mentorship, educational opportunities, and life-changing experiences.”

Below are some statements on Levine provided by the Ravens:

Eric DeCosta – Ravens Executive Vice President & General Manager

“Anthony Levine is one of those rare players who beat the odds and became one of the best special teamers in the league over a 10-year span. ‘Co-Cap’ epitomizes mental grit, physical toughness and intelligence, and he has an uncanny ability to rally others. He also excelled on every phase of special teams and contributed on defense as a safety, nickel, dime and many other important roles. Anthony is a forever Raven, as selfless as they come. We wish him the very best in his retirement as a player and can’t wait to see what challenges he takes on next.”

John Harbaugh – Ravens Head Coach

“Tough, smart, persistent and dependable, Anthony represents the very best of what it means to be a Raven. A relentless competitor and man of high character, Anthony poured every part of himself into the team. He worked tirelessly to become one of the NFL’s best special teams players, and he could always be relied upon to contribute at a high level on defense – no matter the role he was asked to play. Most importantly, Anthony is a terrific leader of men and someone who helped his teammates become the very best versions of themselves. It’s been a privilege to coach Anthony for the past 10 years, and I am grateful to forever call him a friend.”

Chris Horton – Ravens Special Teams Coordinator

“Anthony Levine has been an integral part of the Ravens, and I want to thank him for all the great things he’s brought to this organization, not only as a player, but as a teammate and friend.

“When you look at his career and what he’s done on and off the field, it’s been remarkable. For an undrafted player to gain the kind of admiration that he has, it says a lot about who he is as a person and as a player.

“When I first took over as the special teams coordinator, Anthony was the first guy I brought up to the office, and I reiterated to him what I expected from him as the voice of our unit. He’s the kind of player you can count on day-in and day-out to get the guys playing at the level we needed them to play in order for us to uphold our standard as one of the best special teams units in this league.

“For 10 years, Anthony has terrorized opponents on the field. He has earned the utmost respect of coaches and players around the league. When reflecting on Anthony’s career, one thing we always talked about is that the tape is our resume. When you saw No. 41 playing on tape, you knew he was gaining the appreciation of the 31 other teams who were watching.

“No matter what he chooses to do after football, I know Anthony will be successful because of the dedication and passion he puts into whatever he is doing. I’m looking forward to seeing the next great chapter of his life.”

Jerry Rosburg – Former Ravens Associate Head Coach & Special Teams Coordinator

“Anthony Levine’s stellar NFL career can be attributed to his unique combination of talents and stout heart. He has been the first man down the field on kickoff coverage for nearly a decade; he has blocked the opponent’s best players on the return phases; and he has captained the punt team with a vigorous spirit.

“His versatility on defense is witnessed by having played cornerback, safety and linebacker. He has taken numerous young players under his wing to guide them through the challenges of life in the NFL. His skill, effort and leadership have anchored an unprecedented era of special teams success for the Ravens.

“Anthony retires with my enduring respect, gratitude and love.”