Let’s Not Over-Vilify (Or Over-Praise) Ray Lewis
Like every Ravens fan, I have a purple number 52 jersey hanging in my closet. Along with the Michael Jackson one that fit me back in 1996, this jersey is one of the first that I ever owned. Unfortunately, it’s been a little while since it has come off the green plastic hanger that holds it in my closet and has instead been collecting dust along with old pals Shannon Sharpe and Joe Flacco.
Some of that has to do with the fact that in my older, wiser age I sort of equate having a grown man’s last name printed on my back with dressing up like Greedo at Comicon. But admittedly, I also don’t feeling like hearing the snide remarks from my non-Baltimore fan friends when I support a guy they consider to be a murderer.
Ray Lewis’ past is something many Baltimore fans choose to ignore. In a court of law, the murder charges against him were dismissed, but he admitted to being guilty of obstruction of justice. The blood of victim Jacinth Baker was found in Lewis’ limousine and his blood-stained white suit was dumped in a garbage bin outside of a fast food restaurant. I can’t tell you what happened that night, no one can. Lewis told members of the media on Tuesday that they weren’t “really qualified to ask those questions,” implying that only God can judge him of his past.
Then there’s the PED witch hunt that resurfaced this week. Lewis was accused of using a deer-antler spray (IGF-1, an anabolic hormone that stimulates muscle growth), a banned substance in the National Football League. The Ravens quickly issued a statement that noted that Lewis has never failed a drug test, but IGF-1 can reportedly only be detected through a blood sample. As of today, Major League Baseball is the only professional sport that tests for performance enhancing drugs with blood tests — and they only recently implemented it.
We reported on the exact same story about Lewis two years ago here on BSR. I personally talked with one of the co-founders of S.W.A.T.S, the company accusing Lewis of using their banned substance. So why did this story resurface two years after it was originally published? Would it even make headlines if the Ravens weren’t in New Orleans for the Super Bowl?
I’ll always view Ray Lewis as the greatest linebackers to ever play the game. He changed his position and help mold the franchise of the my hometown team. I’ll remember him as the Super Bowl XXXV MVP and always picture him looking up as the confetti fell in Tampa Bay.
Off the field, I can’t justify the type of person he is and don’t think it’s worth defending a man I truly don’t know. Sometimes fans fall so deeply in love with what they see on the field, that they refuse to acknowledge the person off of it. I don’t know what happened in Atlanta that night in 2000. I don’t know if Lewis used a banned substance to help him recover from what could have been a season ending injury.
I’m not sure if he’s so touched by God that his emotions get the best of him after every win or if he’s grabbing attention by bringing on the waterworks. If you’re going to call Ray Lewis a “murderer” or a “steroid user”, you better do your research first. I’ve read just about everything out there on both topics and can’t find enough evidence to support either claim.
As for me, I’m not going to judge. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Ray, it’s that no one can.