It’s always a long two weeks between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl but this year it seems even longer. It seems longer because Baltimore’s overtly emotional Ray Lewis is getting to be too annoying to handle.
I shouldn’t say “getting to be.” He is, and has been, way too annoying to handle since he returned to active linebacker duty for the Baltimore Ravens in their playoff run following a triceps tear. He’s so annoying, with all his crying, proselytizing and self-indulgent preaching, that I’m surprised Baltimore fans are still Baltimore fans. He’s almost as annoying as Phil Simms.
Despite all that, I am excited for the Super Bowl to finally arrive, and I don’t even have a horse in the race. I don’t really have a favorite Harbaugh brother, be it Jim or John, and I don’t, frankly, care for either team.
I do love the Grateful Dead, so perhaps I should go for the 49ers and the city they blossomed in.
The Wire, on the other hand, is the greatest TV drama ever created and it was set in Baltimore. Maybe I should side with Stringer Bell and go for the Ravens? Theoretically, I should be going for the Ravens because they are the team that beat my beloved Broncos and then whooped up on Tom Brady and the Patriots, right?
Well, I’d like to say that is true but it’s not. I can’t find it in me to go for the Ravens, and it’s because of Ray Lewis. He’s so over the top, I can’t stand him anymore. (I never really liked the guy, but now it’s different.)
First, there aren’t many professional football players who have the opportunity to retire on top of the game – that is, to retire after winning a Super Bowl. It’s any professional football player’s dream to play a long successful career and then retire after winning the Lombardi Trophy. It’s the reason Brett Favre came back so many times. It’s the reason the Broncos have Peyton Manning right now. Peyton would like to retire on top.
One player to accomplish this, who just happens to come to mind, was John Elway. After winning his first Super Bowl he contemplated retirement, but knowing he had a great running back and an even better offensive line, he took the risk to come back for just one more season – to go out on top. The risk paid off and John Elway won two Super Bowls before retiring. (How about them apples?)
During his final season, you didn’t see John preaching about what is right and wrong in the world. You didn’t see him crying after every single game. You didn’t see him taking his pads off early to show some new T-shirt design. You didn’t see him acting completely out of control.
As fans, we knew his final Super Bowl was all about John Elway. Yet Elway didn’t show it. He was humble and acted like he belonged in that final spotlight. He knew how to play the part. It’s like being handed a surprise first-class seat on an airplane. You can act like a jackass by going crazy texting and taking photos to prove that you are, in fact, sitting in first class. Or you can act like you’ve been there before, by sitting down and ordering a Scotch without hesitation.
John Elway in his final moment of triumph ordered the Scotch right away. Ray Lewis is still posting Instagrams of himself in the 1A seat. Ray Lewis should just sit back and relax and act like he’s been to a Super Bowl before. We all know he has. We all know he’s retiring.
Of course, the giant elephant in the room is Ray Lewis’ criminal record, which plays into his whole emotional being right now. Back in 2000, Lewis and two other men were charged with murder in Atlanta. The murder charge against Lewis, according to ESPN, was dropped when he pled guilty to obstruction of justice and agreed to testify against the people he had been with when two men were stabbed to death following a Super Bowl party.
“Lewis admitted lying to police, and based on his testimony, the best-case reading of his actions is that a huge, muscular NFL player stood by doing nothing while his companions killed a pair of men,” stated a report from ESPN.com. “The companions subsequently were acquitted on grounds of self-defense; it was suggested, though never proved, that the two men killed [had] threatened Lewis’ group with a gun.”
For Lewis, unfortunately, this incident is a part of his resume and a lot of people aren’t going to forget it. There are people who said he was never found guilty and that he is innocent under our judicial system. There are others who believe that, well, he got away with murder.
The point here is not to judge whether Ray Lewis is a murderer or not. The fact remains that there are a lot of unanswered questions surrounding that incident. That’s just the way it is and probably will be forever.
What adds an uncomfortable feeling in all of this is Ray Lewis’ current persona, of being anything but humble and extremely outspoken – that somehow Ray Lewis has found his way out of darkness into the light. Perhaps he really has? I don’t know. It’s weird that Ray Lewis acts so reformed, yet he was innocent of the murder?
I don’t know. If it were me, I’d stay quiet and humble. You can be the gracious kid-loving, God-fearing person Ray Lewis comes off as, but you can do it in a humble manner.
The media is going to hype Ray Lewis enough prior to, during, and after the Super Bowl. He doesn’t need to help them with his sobbing speeches. It’s beginning to look too much like an act, which is something Ray Lewis and his supporters should worry about.
Niners 34, Ravens 17.