Sunday, February 3, 2013

RAY LEWIS AND WHY WE DESPISE HIM


There are many people in our society who can't bear the thought of seeing others
succeed, whether they be friends, co-workers, or in some cases, even family members.
It's called jealousy and those instilled with it often try to take down others or 
revel in their demise.

When people can't stomach the sight of others whom they perceive to be of bad
character, they spew venomous words that masquerade as hate. A lot of people are 
Ray Lewis haters, especially after watching him hoist the Lombardi Trophy in the final 
game of what has been a pretty spectacular career. In five years, he'll put on the ugly 
yellow blazer, pick up his bust, and probably begin his acceptance speech  at the Hall 
of Fame in Canton, Ohio with three short but powerful words: God. Is. Great.

I always admired Lewis as a football player and for the true professional that he was.
He was well-conditioned, well-prepared, and well-thought of by teammates and opponents
who had a great deal of respect for the linebacker of the Baltimore Ravens. The man
played one of the game's most violent positions for 17-years extraordinarily well and
was the face of the franchise and its unquestioned inspirational leader for many, many
years.


But. There is always going to be a but with Lewis. He's a sure-fire, first-round Hall of
Famer, but....

He will go down as one one of the most durable and best middle linebackers in the history
of the game but....

Lewis was charged in a double-murder case in Atlanta in 2000 and that is the "but". He
admitted  he lied to police officers and was slapped with an obstruction of justice charge. The
NFL hit him a lot harder than than the legal system, tagging a $250,000 fine onto him.

It doesn't matter if it's Ray Lewis or the local troublemaker in your small town, when
someone who is involved in a murder somehow walks away from a heinous crime with
nothing but a smile on his face, it doesn't sit well with anybody Nobody in that case has 
ever paid the price for the killing of two young men. Lewis and two of the people he testified against were set free.

After being cleared of murder chargers, Lewis got out of his orange jumpsuit and might
as well have put on a blue tights and a red cape. He turned into Superman to the people
in Baltimore and many in the media, including ESPN, who worshipped Lewis at the altar.

In 2006, Lewis became a born-again Christian, which is admirable. I don't really like
to judge people on their faith. Everybody has the right to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.
The Declaration of Independence clearly states that and Lewis has been an inspiration to many people in Baltimore as a great football player and born-again Christian. He leads some people
battling illness in prayer during bible studies, which is great. I respect that, even though 
there is a perception that he is some kind of reverend or priest who has been anointed
to carry God's message.

Honestly, I wasn't a Ray Lewis hater until the NFL playoffs began. Everything he did
seemed to be about Ray Lewis. There was the "squirrel dance" that he not only did to
enter the game, but also at the end of his final one in Baltimore. Once was sufficient,
twice  reeked of selfishness and the "look at me" attitude that has infiltrated sports
for many years. He preached the team concept, yet seemed to be hogging the spotlight all
to himself. 

To me, Lewis turned into Joel Osteen in shoulder pads. After the Ravens upset the Denver Broncos, Lewis started his interview with a, "God is great. Man cannot change what 
has been blessed and destined." I said to myself, "Have I missed something or been spending 
too much time updating my profile picture on Facebook? What the heck is going on here?"


Lewis morphed into Reverend Ray right before my very eyes. I found it to be quite odd and uncomfortable, considering he had been involved in a double-murder. That and one of  the 10 commandants, "Thou shall not kill", just didn't sit right. But the Lewis express didn't stop. In 
fact, it was picking up a great deal of steam. Nothing to seemed to bother Lewis because, after
all, he was "too blessed to be stressed."

Before the game against the Patriots, the cameras caught Lewis looking to the heavens and muttering something while a  wave of tears flooded over his war paint. After the game, he was 
on is knees  praying for the entire world to see. I was incredulous. I half-expected to see him
pour holy water over the head of Wes Welker and forgive him for the sins his wife apparently
committed against Lewis. (via Facebook, of course)

Last year, Tim Tebow practiced and preached his faith so publicly and was heavily criticized 
for it. Opposing players were disenchanted with such an open display of his faith and some 
even mocked him with the "Tebowing" pose. Yet, nobody seemed to say too much when 
Good ole Ray was doing it. It's as if he got a free pass just because he was a Hall of Famer
instead of a flash in the pan like Tebow.


Then came the whole, Deer Antler Spray controversy. A report in Sports Illustrated stated 
that Lewis had consulted with basically a voodoo doctor about a substance that could help 
him recover more efficiently from a torn triceps he suffered on October. An injury like that 
has knocked out mere mortals in the game for up to six months, but miraculously, Lewis 
returned to the playoffs just two months later and at the age of 37, which in the NFL is 
considered to be close to a dinosaur.

People mocked Lewis and the Deer Antler Spray he was using because it was comical, in and
of itself. The controversy died down quickly because, quite frankly, I think many fans could
care less if a player uses  PED's in the NFL. There are no hallowed records that exist like in baseball and  fans just want to be entertained by bigger, stronger, and faster players. For God's sake, the  NFL doesn't even test for HGH, so they don't seem to care about it all that much,
either.

Once Super Bowl sunday arrived, people across the country had pretty much had seen and 
heard enough about Ray Lewis. They were hoping they wouldn't have to see Lewis on the
stage with a big smile on his face while gripping the NFL's biggest prize.


To the chagrin of many, Lewis did. He went out a winner. He not only got away with a 
double-murder, allegedly, but he got to have a storybook ending. People hated that. It seemed wrong to me as well. I guess we can say that's another example of life not always being fair
The good die young and the bad are often rewarded.

Ray Lewis went out a champion. However, there is always going to be that "but" that is 
probably going to haunt him forever. Lewis put the exclamation point on his polarizing story
by saying, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" Yes, your God is great, Ray, your
God is most definitely great.

Football is over for Lewis and his life will go on. Unfortunately, for those two young men
in Atlanta, it ended tragically 13 years ago without any trophies in their hands.

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