Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way first. I’m pulling for you. More than anything, I’m pulling for you and your fiancee’ to work your way through this for the benefit of not only yourselves and your future, but that of your daughter. Nothing is more important than your family. Make your family a priority, which I’m sure you will, and you’ll do just fine. Football, for the time being, is very much secondary.
There’s no real need to stress how disappointed we all are with you and your actions in that casino last Saturday morning. I’m disappointed in you. The team is disappointed in you. You, I’m sure, are disappointed in you. So, that’s the end of the finger-wagging and me telling you how bad of a boy you’ve been. You know it.
Now, for the rest of the story, as the saying goes.
You’re no doubt embarrassed about what happened last weekend in Atlantic City. Notwithstanding the very serious legal situation you’re involved in — which trumps football by a long shot — you’re obviously aware of how your actions and involvement in a domestic-violence case can potentially affect the way the Ravens look at you as an employee.
One thing you’re definitely finding out this week — this situation is going to affect how the fans in town look at you as a football player. You’re going to need some thick skin, my man, a fact I’m sure you’ve discovered if you’ve seen the internet or checked your Twitter account this week. If you think Baltimore’s tough on you, wait until the fans in Pittsburgh and Cleveland get a hold of you next season. It’s not going to be pretty.
Speaking of the way Baltimore has turned on you this week, please know this: Some of that…well, MOST of it, frankly, is due to the fact you’re coming off a bad season on the field and your 2014 salary cap figure is thought by many to be hamstringing the team in their efforts to rebuild and improve. If you were coming off a rushing season that included 1,600 yards and 12 TD’s, the football community would be more forgiving of your actions last weekend. Unfortunately, they’ve been wanting your blood since about week six of the recent NFL season and this, now, gives them the opportunity to quench that thirst.
By the way, I wasn’t all that impressed with your work on the field last season, either, but I don’t connect that with your arrest in Atlantic City. They’re two completely different topics.
So, while you’re probably taking a lot of advice from folks in your family, your “camp” and your circle of friends, let me give you some more to consider.
First, Ray, please don’t let what happened last weekend define you as a person, an athlete and a Baltimore sports representative. Don’t stop your work with the anti-bullying campaign you’ve been so involved with over the last few years. The message you’ve been sending is an important one and I know, having been involved in an event or two where you’ve also been in attendance, that young men and women in town need someone like you to stress to them the dangers of youth (and adult) bullying.
You might recall a few years back when I was involved in an event Ben Grubbs was holding and you were there, too, with a bunch of young boys and girls from the Police Athletic League. I’ve seen a lot of athletes over the years engage with kids but your work that night was magical. And real.
Don’t stop now. Keep going, please. The city needs you. I know you have other issues — personal and professional — to get straightened out and please do that. But once you’re back and your life is in balance again, continue that outstanding work you’ve been involved with over the last six years since you came to Baltimore. This community is in dire need of help — like most communities are these days — and people like you who put your heart and soul into it need to do more, not less.
This, now, is a great time for you to lean on God and your faith to help bring you through this and redeem yourself and your character. There are two people at the Ravens facility you should seek out immediately, because they’ll both help you. Go see Rod Hairston, the team chaplain, close the door to his office, and simply ask him “How can God help me get through this and make sure what happened in Atlantic City never happens again?” Rod will give you some answers. So, too, will God. Go do the same thing with your head coach, John Harbaugh. Ask him the same questions you ask Rod. John’s an insightful man who’s deeply connected to his faith and he’ll give you some great guidance.
And finally, you need to take a deep, serious look at your alcohol use to determine if it’s becoming a problem. If it is, seek help. That’s simple. And, I’m sure, it’s not the easiest thing to do to take that deep of a look at yourself and admit you’ve lost control of your ability to have a drink or two without it adversely affecting your decision making. But you must have that conversation with yourself and, if necessary, a professional with experience in alcohol and drug abuse to determine if you need help. If you do, get it. No matter what you think, you can’t beat alcohol, if, in fact, you’ve reached the stage of not being able to control it. Have that tough talk with yourself and move forward.
I wish you all the best in your legal situation and your personal relationship with your fiancee’. I know you didn’t plan on this happening. But it did. Now, you need to deal with it and, as I wrote above, work your ass off to make sure it’s not your defining moment in Baltimore.
I know you’re better than what you showed in Atlantic City last weekend.
Now, please prove me right.