TWTW: Not everyone will miss Ray Lewis

I don’t believe Ray Lewis is a murderer, and I think it’s kind of inappropriate how many people keep calling him one. I don’t believe he directly made a conscious decision to attack a man and end his life, and then successfully carried out the plan. That’s what a murderer is.
I do think, based on most of the evidence surrounding the story from over a decade ago, that he “obstructed justice” in an effort to protect himself and his friends, all while showing little to no concern for the two men who died that night.

In the end, Lewis agreed to a plea deal and served his sentence, so I’m fine with the fact that he was allowed to return to the NFL, and will even give him credit for apparently going out of his way to change his ways and rehabilitate his reputation. It’s hard to deny that the guy has successfully taken control of his own legacy, with help, of course, from the media.

image

And it’s really, really weird to me that the NFL — and the media that covers the NFL — has gone all-in with the Lewis-as-a-hero story.
Roger Goodell — the same guy who suspended Saints coach Sean Peyton for an entire year because one of his assistant coaches paid his players for trying to hurt players, possibly without Peyton even knowing about it — greeted Lewis with a giant bear hug on the day of his final game in Baltimore, and every week all the networks — from FOX to CBS to ESPN — fawn over Lewis as if he were Santa Claus.

All I could think of yesterday once it became apparent that the Ravers were going to win was how nauseatingly over-the-top and melodramatic Lewis’ post-game interviews were going to be. The minute the game ended I changed the channel because I didn’t want to see it. (Though the worst part of the broadcast for me was the revelation that John Harbaugh supposedly received a text message from Muhammad Ali. Um, no, sorry. That most definitely did not happen. Please stop saying things like this.)

But here’s the thing about Ray Lewis: You don’t even need the obstruction-of-justice/murder backstory at this point to be turned off by Lewis. He’s just plain annoying.

From his constant mugging for the cameras, to his pre-game dance to his continued efforts to try and make himself cry whenever Sal Paoloantointoiououo sticks a microphone in his face, no one in sports currently induces an eye-roll quicker than Lewis. Enough already.

That said, I’m not insulted by his fame, as some are. I don’t think it’s disgusting that he’s all over TV, because I don’t think he’s a murderer. Like I said, Lewis paid for his crime — if you don’t think the punishment was enough, that’s not really on him, and there’s nothing that can be done about it now. But still, it is there. And nobody on TV talks about. Ever. It’s like everyone in sports TV has made a gentlemen’s agreement to never mention Lewis’ past. It’ll be interesting to see — with two weeks leading up to the game — if any network actually makes any attempt to address it going forward.

Do I expect Stu Scott to ask Lewis, after a big win, ‘Hey, do you ever still think about those two dudes that were killed at the Super Bowl party a few years back?’
No. It’s not relevant to a discussion about that day’s game, and it would be inappropriate and attention-seeking for a reporter to ask that question in that situation.

But the Super Bowl incident is relevant to a discussion about Lewis’ legacy, and the guys on all the morning talk shows and highlight shows and Sportscenter, etc., have spent lots and lots of time talking about Lewis’ legacy, and still nobody brings up the murder case. Worse, they continue to act as if everyone in the world can’t get enough of Ray Lewis.

The networks talk about Lewis as if he is universally loved (he is not). They act as though there is literally no segment of viewers who has a problem with him and his past (twitter will tell you otherwise). That we all love his pre-game dance (we don’t). That we are all moved by his “passionate” and “emotional” speeches and post-game interviews (we aren’t).

I don’t understand this. Are the members of the football media such suckers that they will overlook anything as long as the guy in question gives good interviews and carries a likeable demeanor? (Brett Favre says yes.)
How many Hall of Fame votes would Barry Bonds have received if he had been as gregarious in his playing days as Lewis?

Is Lewis’ story inspiring? I guess it could be, if you’re the kind of person who really wants to be inspired, and wants that inspiration to come from a football player. Like I said, whatever Lewis is guilty of, he did his time, and it appears (in the post-Te’o era the word ‘appears’ needs to be stressed) that he has since been a model citizen and teammate. He deserves some credit for that.

But forgive us, Goodell, Jim Nantz, Chris Berman, et al, if we’re struggling to see this guy as the inspirational living legend that you so badly want us to see him as.
To me, he’s a great football player. That’s about it. And I’m not going to miss him when he’s gone, and I’m not going to root for him against the 49ers.

* If you missed it, here’s Bill Freeman’s big dunk from Tuesday’s win over Southwest Minnesota State.

* I’ve met Brent Burns twice, and based on the 15-20 minutes I spent around him, this picture does not surprise me in the least.

* Speaking of NHL players I’ve met, Wild goalie Josh Harding is one of the classiest, down-to-earth guys you’ll ever come across, and last night he pitched a shutout in his first start since being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
On a day in which we were bombarded with Ray Lewis and the Harbaugh brothers, that’s a good story.

* Yes, Vikings fans, it’s OK to be happy for Randy Moss going to a Super Bowl (you do realize he’s already been to one, with New England, right?). But let’s tone it down with the excitement. He’s not ours, anymore. This kind of thing is why Packer fans laugh at us.

* Former Stampede goalie Eric Hartzell made “Faces in the Crowd” in Sports Illustrated this week. Hartzell is having a tremendous season at Quinnipiac. While 9 former Stampede players were on NHL opening day rosters — Zach Redmond is the latest — no Stampede goalie has ever reached the NHL. Come to think of it, I don’t know if any USHL goalie has ever played in the NHL.

* Lance Armstrong seems like a sociopathic person to me. I still find the steroid hysteria in this country to be silly.

* The Twins re-signed Drew Butera at $700,000. I can totally see why.

* If you’ve never heard of Aussie comedian Jim Jefferies, you’ll want to check him out. Well, if you like incredibly “offensive” humor, that is.
Jefferies’ first TV-show, ‘Legit’ premiered Thursday night on FX. It was great. Looking forward to the next episode.