I was going to go down on my own terms and clearly having more fun than any of the rest of them.
I was a “true journalist,” I believed, just with a different wardrobe.
Did my wearing a purple Ravens official team issue jersey and a $19.99 Ravens’ “flying B” hardhat and blowing a “Raven caw” whistle have anything to do with the questions I’d ask, the stories I’d report or the “insider” information I’d get from the players in the locker room?
I didn’t think so.
But Matt Stover did.
“Take off that stupid hat, man,” Stover said to me, in a not so pleasant fashion. “You’re in the locker room. If you’re in the media, act like a professional.”
Wow, I’d officially been admonished by a player, a kicker no less.
“What a dick!” I thought to myself.
If the little guy is going to scream at me after winning a game, what’s the big angry dude in the corner going to do? Eat me like Hannibal Lecter?
(It should be noted that Stover and I quickly came to a détente less than two weeks after the “incident” and share quite a healthy relationship. Like many others, he came to see it my way on the wardrobe choice.)
Lewis was in the corner of the room on the left, no more than 20 feet from Stover in the cramped room. Equipment was strewn all over the place and players were cutting all of their tape off and trying to make their way to the shower. He was all alone, catching his breath when I approached him.
“Hi Ray, my name is Nestor Aparicio and I host a radio show in town,” I said.
“Hey buddy, how you doing?” he said in that high-pitched, soft lilt that he’s now famous for. For the record, “buddy” is Ray Lewis’ favorite term of endearment.
“I’m sorry I haven’t met you before,” I continued, “but I’m starting this Monday night radio show at a restaurant here in town and I was wondering if you’d like to be my first guest. You had a great game and I’d like to buy you a crab cake.”
“What time is it?” he said.
“Around six o’clock, whenever you can get there, really.”
“Just write some directions down and I’ll be there for you,” Lewis said.