by Chuck Carroll

LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — A quirky battle between rival cities over Ray Lewis’ retirement date has led to high honors for Charm City’s creativity.

Clear Channel Outdoor’s “Ray Lewis Retirement Party” billboard has been named the Best Sports Billboard Ever by the fan-driven website,

Firmly agreeing with Las Vegas oddsmakers, the Boston offices of the outdoor advertising agency prematurely declared the New England Patriots victors in the AFC Championship Game days before kickoff. Their billboard counted down to a fictional retirement party for Lewis that coincided with the date of the game.

But as fate would have it, 2012 was a season of destiny for the aging linebacker and the only team NFL team he’s ever played for. The Ravens steamrolled the Patriots 28-13 at Gillette Stadium and went on to win Super Bowl XLVII.

Immediately after the Ravens’ win in Foxboro, the Baltimore offices fired back at their mistaken northern colleagues by posting a message on all 19 digital billboards they owned in the city announcing the postponement of Lewis’ party.

It wasn’t the Lombardi Trophy, but their clever retort earned the company a title of its own.

“We are honored,” said Steve Ginsburg, President of Clear Channel Outdoor for Baltimore and Washington, D.C. “We love Baltimore and the Ravens and were happy to donate our creative energy and billboard space to our hometown.”

Lewis officially retired following the season, ending a remarkable 17-year NFL career played entirely in Baltimore.

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