The year was 2000. The city was Atlanta. The site was Cobalt. The man was Ray Lewis. The charge was double murder.
Too often we are reminded of that fateful night. Too often we are quick to defend our late General. I, at times, find myself in a heated debate about whether Ray was guilty or innocent. Who are we to decide?! Who are we to point the finger?! After all, were any of us there?!
The events that have transpired in New England and with Aaron Hernandez has led me to not keep silent on this matter. This is something that will resound across the NFL and sports as we know it.
I once was asked why am I wearing that murderer’s jersey?! Can you believe that?! Wow!!!! This exact problem is currently being resolved by the Patriots by allowing a trade in for a new jersey. Chance to get your free Tebow trade up!!!
One key point I will address today is one of the differences few forget to notice through all the mess. One question. Who stood by who? Think for a minute. What have the Ravens been all about? TEAM! Play Like A Raven! W.I.N. What’s Our Name?! … What is the common theme here?! Follow my lead and I will reveal.
The glue that sticks this together is a brotherhood. A support unlike any other. The bond between men. This is what has brought us a second championship here in Charm City. How emotional did we get when OJ Brigance spoke during the AFC Championship Celebration?! (interesting fact: OJ made the opening tackle in Super Bowl XXXV) Ray has been and will always will be one of the founding pillars of this organization. Did the team cut him?! NO! Did the team stand by him?! YES! What did the Patriots do with Hernandez?! Ultimately, they cut ties with him. Now they have a mess to deal with in the front office, and as a team image. We as Ravens Nation have a similar taste to it all. I recall all too well how it felt seeing Ray up for trial.
If you haven’t read this article, I would passionately urge any Ravens fan to read. The article is entitled God’s Linebacker: The Gospel According to Ray Lewis. Sports Illustrated issue 11/13/2006. From this I want to take something powerful Ray said………..
“See, I had to face, face-to-face, my four-year-old child, who couldn’t understand why his father was in shackles,” Lewis is saying. “I had to face that I couldn’t touch my mother for the first time in my life. And God asked me a question. I was in jail 15 days, and He asked me, How long are you gonna cry?” —— A few other things Ray will tell you are that off the field he’s not a vicious man and never hurt anyone, much less the two men who were stabbed to death outside Atlanta’s Cobalt Lounge on Jan. 31, 2000; that he regrets the mistakes he made that night; that the resulting trial was a blessing because it made him change. It’s a compelling narrative, and Lewis tries hard to make it stick. “Life is so great,” he will often begin a thought. When Lewis saw that poster at Cleveland Browns Stadium he strode along the sideline reciting the Lord’s Prayer. Lewis says he’s all about love, but when he talks about the Fulton County prosecutor, the former Atlanta mayor, the people who tried to send him to jail? Then he goes all Old Testament, his love full of loud and righteous fury. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1108943/index.htm
(link to the full article above)
Ray made a decision to change. The situation presented a greater story. One like the team of destiny this past season. When it’s your time, it’s your time.
I never would share this with just anyone, but you, my readers, are my family. Baltimore is my home. I too can relate to Ray’s change. Although it was not murder, it was enough to lead me to evaluate where I was in life, and where I was headed. I am passionate about the Ravens more than anyone, but this story always captivates me.
What Aaron may or may have not done is in the hands of the justice system, and ultimately God. What we can do is learn from these stories. Take life lessons. Ray has always preached that football and life are played out simultaneously. He has always said that we play for something greater. What are you playing for today? Your life? Your future?
I wear a bracelet that reads this one powerful message from Ray. “Leave your mark to endure forever.” What mark will you leave behind?