Ozzie Newsome once said the final element of scouting a college player is to pick out a game or two when the player’s team is losing and see how he performs when the outcome has already been determined.
In other words, sometimes you learn more about a man when he’s losing than when he’s winning.
Occasionally, the way someone handles themselves in the tough times tells you all you need to know.
In what has almost now become a ritual-of-sorts for both of them, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed both did not make themselves available to the media following Sunday’s 17-15 home loss to the Colts.
For the record, Reed didn’t appear at his locker. Lewis got changed in front of his locker and when asked by a member of the media if he had anything to say, Lewis simply said, “No”, grabbed his belongings and headed out.
That’s just not good enough from those two guys. Period.
They both have plenty of time for the media after a win. Losses, though, are a different story, particularly at home where it’s very easy to hide.
Lewis has been pulling this stunt for a long time now. And it’s a shame, really, that this still remains the one black mark against him…because he’s the best thing that’s happened to professional football in Baltimore since 1996.
But there’s no excuse for Ray Lewis to dodge the media after a loss. None. It’s inexcusable.
John Harbaugh faced the press yesterday, literally 15 minutes after making a boneheaded move by throwing away two time-outs. Joe Flacco stepped up – literally – to the podium and took responsibility for his poor throw on the late-game interception that all but sealed the deal in the loss to the Colts. Ray Rice faced the media afterwards. A bunch of players did, in fact.
But Lewis and Reed opted to bolt without having to answer any questions.
One former Raven – who moved on, shall we say, to “greener” pastures in the off-season, used to say to me last year, “Ray pulled the old ‘shower and scoot’ again, huh?” Shower and scoot was the locker-room code word for “ducking the media”, of course.
If it’s good enough for Flacco, Harbaugh, Rice, Pryce, Foxworth, Cundiff and Cameron, it’s good enough for Lewis and Reed.
Or, at least, it should be.
And while it’s probably the least of the Ravens problems right now, the fact remains that having your two star players scram without facing the press after a loss is symbolic of something much deeper. Perhaps it’s a character flaw of the individuals in question. It could mean the team isn’t fully in control of their personnel. And it might be an indicator that certain players aren’t willing to take responsibility for losing but are more than happy to snatch the limelight when the team wins.
If you ask me, it’s probably a little bit of all three.
Dodging the media after you lose IS a character flaw. It just is.
Talking after a win merely says “I’ll be happy to speak on the performance today and allow you to promote the fact that I played well and helped the team win.”
Engaging in “shower and scoot” only says this: “I’m not interested in being accountable today.”
It’s bush league.
And I certainly expect more from a slam dunk Hall of Famer (Lewis) and a guy who’s at least in the Hall of Very Good (Reed).
They’re both great players who have given us plenty of joy on Sundays for a long, long time. And even this little-bump-in-the-road can’t take away from what either of them have done on the field during the respective careers in purple. But if leaders lead-by-example, this is part of the process that younger players watch and emulate. After all, “If it’s good enough for Ray, it’s good enough for me, right?”
Ray Lewis is, in my opinion, the best football player we’ve had in this city since Johnny Unitas. Ed Reed might not be quite that valuable, but he’s certainly a player who will go down as an all-time Raven great.
But their habit of not manning-up when times are tough takes some of the shine off of their star.
Last January, Terrell Suggs played the AFC title game with one arm, essentially. When the game ended, he couldn’t even take off his own shoulder pads due to his bum shoulder. He was in MAJOR pain following the game. And yet, Suggs came in to the interview area and answered EVERY question.
Here’s what Ray said after that game: (_____________________)
I don’t expect it to stop, by the way. I think Ray has his own way of doing things, as does Reed. And in fairness to both of them, they’re each asked to speak every Wednesday after practice and they generally comply. It’s not as if they NEVER face the media, because they do.
And it’s not like they’ve never faced the media after a loss, because they have…both of them.
But it’s VERY rare these days to see Ray or Ed do the give-and-take with the media after a losing effort.
And Sunday was no exception, as both avoided the press after the loss to the Colts.
And it says something about each of them, for sure.