"I left everything on the field that I had," said McCrary, who collected 71 career sacks during his decade in the NFL. "I don't know how many players can say that, but I can put my hand on the Bible. Every snap I've given has been 100 percent. That's the one thing when I came into this league that I wanted to be able to say. There's no hard feelings. I walk away rich in memories."
Known for his relentlessness and trademark intensity. McCrary forged a 10-year career in the league despite being undersized for a defensive lineman at 6-foot-4, 260 pounds. McCrary had been inactive for the past six games because of recurring soreness. He underwent reconstructive surgery during the offseason to repair a torn ligament, cutting his season short last year after 7.5 sacks. McCrary was selected to Pro Bowls in 1998 and 1999.
"Michael McCrary's such a tremendous warrior, and he's basically at the end of it," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "He recognizes that and we have exhausted all medical opinions for the prudent thing for him to do and he recognizes that."
Although McCrary hasn't completely exhausted his search for a favorable medical opinion, he will likely move on to concentrate on his charity efforts in Maryland.
"I'm going to the very end try to seek out a couple more opinions and look for that one miracle," McCrary said. "It's not over until it's over."
McCrary joined the Ravens as an unrestricted free agent in 1997 from the Seattle Seahawks. During the Super Bowl season, McCrary recorded six sacks in the playoffs alone, including two in the 34-7 victory over the New York Giants in Tampa, Fla. In 1998 and 1999, McCrary collected 14.5 and 11.5 sacks, respectively.
Ravens defensive line coach Rex Ryan constantly held up McCrary as a classic example of a player who would never quit on a play. Ryan kept showing young players spools of film of McCrary crawling on his hands and knees to sack a quarterback, or chasing a play down from the backside with his zealous pursuit.
"The passion of the game still burns inside me, and that's a hard thing to give up," McCrary said. "You want to be out there. All I can do now is help the young guys and try to bring out that passion in them."
One obvious concern for McCrary is his long-term health. He doesn't want to risk needing a wheelchair, walker, cane or crutches to get around, as many other battered ex-football players do.
"It's really the thing that has hit me the hardest," McCrary said. "I probably will be dealing with some problems in the future. That's the one thing that hits home and is disturbing. "I'm not just seeing out doctors' opinions for future play, but also for my future right now."
NOTES: Rookie safety Chad Williams was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week following his 98-yard interception return and a blocked punt that led to Ron Johnson's score in the Ravens' 27-23 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Ravens quarterback Chris Redman (back) is listed as questionable. Defensive backs Chris McAlister (ankle, shoulder) and James Trapp (chest) and tight end John Jones (knee) are all listed as probable. The New Orleans Saints' injury report lists quarterback Aaron Brooks (shoulder), running back Deuce McAlister (ankle), cornerback Dale Carter (shoulder), offensive guard LeCharles Bentley (ankle) as questionable with linebacker Darrin Smith (ankle) as probable.