Ray Lewis speaks about free agency and his deal

March 19, 2009 | Drew Forrester

It was, predictably, a semi-confusing afternoon at Owings Mills.

The Ravens shuttled Ray Lewis into town today to face the media for his first face-to-face encounter with the local press since the season-ending AFC title game loss and his much-discussed contract situation.

Lewis talked a lot — and in all fairness, he didn’t dodge any of the 15 or so questions that were posed to him during the 25-minute press conference.

I’m just not really sure what he said.

Ray talked about God, his relationship with Ozzie and his legacy in Baltimore.  He combined them all — weaving the three of them into a neat story that sounded more like “I never really thought about leaving” rather than “I thought about leaving then decided to stay.”  

Lewis says the fans will embrace him when the season opens in September.  “If they don’t,” he said, “it will be because I’m not on the field.”

Ray did, however, allude to the fact that he heard the whispers in town during the free-agency period…”Ray wants to test free agency?  He wants to play in Dallas — or New York?  Let Ray leave if that’s the way he feels.”  His response to that?  “I prayed for those people, because they were making a judgement on me without hearing me say anything about the situation.”

Well, had Ray taken 30 minutes to “clear the air” and allowed the fans (and media) to hear him speak the truth, all of those whispers would have been founded in honesty — not via the rumor mill.

In the end, this was – always – about coming clean and speaking from the heart.

The Ravens said from the very beginning:  We want Ray back.  We’ll make him a very fair offer.  We want him to retire a Raven.  If someone comes along and offers him more, we’ll deal with that issue then.  

Ray said from the very beginning:  I’ll let God handle it.  Sure, I’d go play in Dallas or New York if that’s what happens.  Do I want to play in Baltimore?  That’s not up for me to decide right now.  It’s in God’s hands. 

I don’t think Ray was being dishonest.

I just don’t think he handled it the right way.  Today, hearing him speak, reminded me precisely why I thought he should have talked during the free agency period.  He’s a talker.  When he speaks, people listen.  And, generally, when he speaks, he’s convincing.

I believe that Ray believes it was best to put it in God’s hands.

I just thought the best avenue for Ray would have been for him to talk first, be honest, and tell God about it later.  

Then again, he got his money and the Ravens got their player.

It worked out well for everyone after all.