SWINDON Storm head coach Steve Bennett has backed legendary linebacker Ray Lewis to end his glittering career in style by leading Baltimore to Super Bowl glory.
The Ravens take on San Francisco 49ers in New Orleans on Sunday night in front of an estimated television audience of over 100 million, after which, win or lose, the 37-year-old will call time on his career after terrorising NFL quarterbacks for 17 seasons.
Lewis has combined with Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed to form a formidable Baltimore defence for the last 10 years, and as a former Great Britain linebacker himself, Bennett is convinced the Ravens will come out on top.
“I would love Baltimore to win so Ray Lewis can go out on a high, he’s everyone’s favourite and he’s a machine,” he said.
“He and Terrell Suggs pretty much built the Baltimore franchise and the way Lewis has built himself to last so many years is superb.
“He tore his tricep earlier in the season, and the whole of America gave him so much support as he came back from that before the season even ended. It was spectacular.
“I am a big defensive man, and I was a linebacker for 15 years so I love what Baltimore are all about, and my head and heart both think they will win.”
In a game which will make history when John and Jim Harbaugh become the first brothers to coach against each other in the Super Bowl, Bennett believes newly-installed 49ers starting QB Colin Kaepernick might find the showpiece event a step too far.
“They have had their troubles this season but then Kaepernick appeared under the radar, and no one knew who he was when he came off the bench,” he said.
“Alex Smith (former San Francisco starter) didn’t do anything wrong, but Kaepernick came in and made plays with his legs and his arms, and his touchdowns to interceptions ratio is amazing for a rookie,” he said.
“But I saw a little bit of panic in the eyes of Kaepernick in the final regular season game away at Arizona which is a place well-known for noise, and I think the whole situation of the Super Bowl might get to him a bit.
“The Super Bowl is watched by hundreds of millions of people, so it has to be one of the biggest events in the world, especially given the glamour which the Americans give to everything.
“On the pitch it is amazing, and then there is the half-time show too and you never know what is going to happen.”
Storm are currently in pre-season training for their first season of competitive football. Anyone interested in getting involved should contact Bennett on 07883 096408 or log on to www.swindonstorm.org.uk.