Listen carefully to Ray Lewis…he’s speaking the truth

May 23, 2011 | Drew Forrester

Although their heart is always in the right place, not every preacher’s message gets absorbed by all those in attendance on Sunday morning.

That’s how I felt about Ray Lewis when I watched the replay of his interview with ESPN’s Sal Palantonio, you know, the one where Ray said “crime would go up” if the NFL lockout continues into the season and games are missed.

I sort of understood what Ray was saying.  It just didn’t come out exactly the way he wanted it to, I think.

Like most things Ray Lewis says, there was deep contemplation on his part, perhaps so much so that he wasn’t able to articulate it down to the thought.  But he was his usual philosophical self in the Palantonio interview and somewhere between the mixture of Jean Paul Sartre and Vince Lombardi there was truth in what Ray Lewis said.

If the NFL season is shortened in 2011, a lot of people are going to be affected.

More people than most of us realize.

And Ray pointed out, because he lives in that “arena” if you will, that we might not all understand the depths of the impact until it actually happens.

Would crime go up if games aren’t played on Sundays in Baltimore?  Hell, I don’t know.  But I know what Lewis meant when he said, “what else are those people going to do?” because a great number of folks who make bus money off of those 10 Ravens home games won’t have that coming in if the games aren’t played.

As Glenn pointed out during today’s edition of The Morning Reaction, what happens – for example – to the stadium clean-up crew if the games aren’t played?  Where do those 500 people go to make their $10.00 an hour doing stadium sweeping and mopping and trash hauling?  What about the folks who sell food and hot chocolate outside of the stadium?  Where will the concession stand workers bring in their income if the 10 games aren’t played?  How about the security guards?  The guys and gals who park cars?

As Ray pointed out, there are people out there REALLY suffering.  Real suffering is not having enough money to buy food for your family, or to pay the BGE bill, or to purchase the bus pass to get to work.

And because Ray Lewis steps foot in those communities where real suffering exists, he has a keen eye for the damage that would be done if the season is shortened or cancelled.

This is precisely the argument that has been made against the Orioles over the last 5-10 years as the team’s on-field product has helped erode a previously rock-solid fan base.  That erosion has led to cab drivers making less money, waiters and waitresses making less money, bell hops making less money, hotel sales directors making less money, restaurant owners making less money, peanut peddlers making less money…and so on, and so on.

That’s why the Orioles have failed so miserably in doing their part to uphold a “sacred obligation” to the fans and the business community.  They’ve stopped caring about the little guy.

At this point, it would be fair to say the NFL owners and NFL players have also stopped caring about the little guy.

With no games played, thousands and thousands of people across the country in 32 cities will be negatively impacted in ways they can’t even imagine right now.  $10.00 an hour for 8 hours of work might not be a lot to you and I.  For some, it’s a monthly bus pass for their two children to go to school.  $80.00 is what you’d spend on a nice steak and a bottle of red wine at a decent restaurant in town.  Add three games up and come up with $240 and that’s someone’s BGE bill for the month.

And as Ray Lewis so accurately pointed out, the impact of this could – and that’s COULD in all caps because we won’t really know until we see it happen, if it does – overflow into areas that we aren’t really prepared for, and crime would be one of those elements that could be tied into it all.

As Ray said, without filling in the answer — “These people who live through us…if there’s no football, what else are they going to do?”  I think he left the question open ended for a reason.  He knows the answer but hopes he’s wrong.

Sometimes we hear Ray Lewis speak and we wonder if he’s really serious.

This time around, he was serious.

And if you listened to the message – like I did – you know Ray was firing a warning shot to all of “his people”…don’t fall victim to evil.

I considered it a pre-emptive statement from one of the game’s great philosophers.

“Let’s get this thing fixed before we have a real mess on our hands.”