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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Starting quarterback Joe Flacco wasn’t the first to defend the Ravens’ current leadership in response to former teammate Ray Lewis’ criticism earlier in the week, but his words rang the loudest on Wednesday.
Responding to Lewis’ comments made on ESPN questioning the team’s current leaders in the aftermath of the party bus altercation that resulted in wide receiver Jacoby Jones being smashed in the head with a champagne bottle early Monday morning, Flacco defended the team’s recent track record when it comes to off-field behavior and downplayed how much leadership can influence what players do away from football.
“It is what it is. Ray knows better than that,” Flacco said. “Things happen. I think we’re usually a pretty good team with stuff like that. If you look around the league, there are probably a lot of leadership problems then. So, like I said, Ray knows better.”
No charges were filed and there is no evidence to suggest any player who attended left tackle Bryant McKinnie’s birthday celebration committed any crimes, making the story inconsequential in Flacco’s eyes.
Coach John Harbaugh addressed the incident with the entire team on Monday, warning the players of the dangers of being out in public late at night.
“When you get the information of what happened, it just is what it is,” Flacco said. “You laugh about it, kind of. It’s funny some of the things that we deal with. I don’t really have too many comments on it, because they’d all be taken the wrong way and out of context. But it’s not really an issue.”
While Flacco stood his ground and took Lewis’ comments to task, linebacker Terrell Suggs took a more apologetic stance for the man he teamed with the defensive side of the ball for a decade. Suggs suggested Lewis’ words were taken out of context even though he was on camera speaking freely in response to the news of the incident.
It’s possible that Suggs only read the transcript of Lewis’ words or wasn’t familiar with what Lewis actually said, but the Ravens had to know questions would be asked of Suggs on Wednesday.
“I guess it’s something that I’ll have to hear him say,” Suggs said. “We all know the media can ‘word-play’ [and] misconstrue things. We texted Ray this morning. It’s one guy’s opinion. Like I said, we don’t know what was actually said. You can never take anything for face value. If he says it in front of a camera, it’s a different thing.”
Understandably, Suggs shares a closer relationship with Lewis than Flacco does, but his response to his longtime teammate’s criticism didn’t have near the impact of the stance taken by the quarterback.
A transcript of Lewis’ comments from Monday night are below:
“We talk about the transition of losing so many guys, a guy like myself and Ed Reed and other guys that are based off leadership. I’ve said it earlier: ‘Where would the leadership come from?’ Because the leadership is being strong in the locker room and winning games. Listen, talent sometimes can win you games. But when you talk about what’s going on off the field, that’s the most important place where leadership steps up.
“When you think about the Baltimore Ravens and the transition that they went through, they’re missing leadership right now. When you have an incident like that, the first thing a leader is going to do is find some way to dissolve everything that’s going on and actually dissolve it before it comes to that type of head or even gets to that point.
“When you talk about the Baltimore Ravens, they’re going to have to refocus and find some quick leaders in that locker room very quickly.”