Tag Archive | "52"

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Chapter 17: The Last Ride of 52

Posted on 02 July 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

 

 

 

Your lowest moment is always when you feel your greatest pain. When I tore my triceps, and the doctor looked at me and she told me that, you know, I was out for the year. And I said, ‘Doc, are you sure?’ I said, ‘Nah. Doc – there’s no way I’m [going] to be out for the year with just a torn triceps. I’ve been through way worse.’ And she was like, ‘Ray, you know, nobody’s ever come back from this.’ And I said, ‘Well, you know, nobody’s ever been Ray Lewis, either.’ ”

– Ray Lewis (January 2013)

 

 

 

AFTER ALL THAT THE RAVENS had been through in their rocky December – three losses in a row, the firing of Cam Cameron, the preseason-style game in Cincinnati to end 2012 – the road to a Super Bowl was still very much alive in January. And there’s nothing to stir the passions of Baltimore football fans like seeing the stolen blue horseshoe and the five-letter word that’s associated with evil in the land of pleasant living: I-R-S-A-Y. The Indianapolis Colts were coming to Baltimore again, a visit that still elicits plenty of emotion from the over-40 crowd.

And this time it wasn’t the bravado and no huddle mastery of Peyton Manning that would confront the Ravens. Peyton was staying warm in Denver, waiting to see if the Ravens would be journeying to the Mile High City next week. This time, the Colts had a different hotshot quarterback in Andrew Luck. The Ravens could never solve Manning – and still couldn’t earlier in December – but this time it would be a different look and a different team coming from Indy. In 2011, a gimpy version of the Colts on the last legs of the Dungy era and the Jim Caldwell head coaching run, were shellacked 24-10 by the Ravens in Baltimore as quarterback Dan Orlovsky ran for his life amidst a purple swarm all afternoon. Orlovsky wouldn’t be running the show this time.

This time, Caldwell would be running the Ravens offense and the guy who was running the Baltimore defense in 2001 would be the head coach of the Colts. There were plenty of emotions with the return of Chuck Pagano to Baltimore and the quarterback prodigy of John Harbaugh’s brother, Jim, who groomed Luck at Stanford as head coach of the Cardinal, before Indianapolis and owner Jim Irsay made him the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft in April 2012 after jettisoning Manning, who wound up in Denver.

Pagano had successfully battled leukemia over the previous three months, and the #Chuckstrong campaign in social media was as solid as the Colts had been on the field in his absence. During his absence, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians stabilized a youthful team around Luck. Indianapolis was the surprise team in the AFC with an 11-5 record, including 9-2 down the stretch. They had played a last-place schedule all year, but had been impressive throughout the year and brought a wave of emotion with them from the friendly heart of the Midwest as Pagano’s health and strength was a rallying point for them all season.

Pagano had believed it a cruel, strange twist of fate that he even got the Colts head coaching job the previous January. As the Ravens went down the field on the final Lee Evans-Billy Cundiff drive in Foxborough, Pagano was thinking that he was finally going to the Super Bowl.

“If we win that AFC Championship Game that would’ve put me two weeks further out and no coach can have any discussion about a job,” Pagano said. “I would venture to say that Indy would’ve had to get their guy in place and they had already interviewed with a bunch of guys. I don’t think that it would’ve happened for me with the Colts. I know there were more qualified candidates than me, guys they had talked to in the process.”

Instead, the Ravens suffered the agonizing defeat and Pagano got the Indy job the next day. “It’s crazy how fate and destiny works,” he said. “I thought I’d be going to Indy that week. I just had no idea it’d be to be coaching the Colts. I thought I’d be coaching the Ravens defense in the Super Bowl.”

Now, a cancer survivor in remission with thin strands of gray hair returning to his previously bald head, Pagano was back in Baltimore on the sidelines as the head coach of an NFL playoff team almost 12 months later. He was coming back to Baltimore in an attempt to end

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How do you feel about Ray Lewis?

Posted on 21 October 2008 by Alex Thomas

I was out having a beer with my buddy Sean a few nights ago at CVP in Towson and overheard a conversation about Ray Lewis. I heard these three knuckle-heads loudly announcing their disdain for our middle linebacker and field general. As I turned around, I expected to see three Steelers fans slugging that god-awful Iron City brew. To my surprise, one guy wore a Ravens hat, another donned a purple hoodie, and the other wore a Chris McAlister jersey. I then chuckled at the sheer irony of wearing a McAlister jersey while passing judgment on other people’s personal choices.

Ever since I can remember, there has been this underground society of Baltimorians who, for whatever reason, have a strong dislike for #52.

I talked to several friends and media members about this, and surprisingly, most of the people I talked to said “yeah, you can use my quote but I don’t want to be named in your blog.” I think that really shows the sensitivity of this issue, especially in this current era of political correctness, where initially harmless comments can be flipped on their ear in a heartbeat.

So why do some people in this town hate Ray Lewis?

-“Not speaking for me personally, but I think it’s a race issue for some people.”

“The dancing and all of the extracurricular crap.”

“The chest-thumping Christianity aspect of his personality.”

“He’s a criminal. He got away with murder”

Whoa, whoa, whoa…slow down.

I can’t believe that ugly incident in Atlanta in 1999 is still being held over Lewis’ head. People, especially young people with lots of money, make mistakes – that will never change. Just look at all of the problems other NFL players have had since that incident: they blow tons of money on a poker game, or fund a dog fighting ring, or get caught up in drugs, or get drunk and punch bodyguards in the bathroom. As far as I’m concerned, the biggest mistake Ray Lewis made was choosing to associate himself with some bad people. And in America, the land of second chances, it’s amazing how some people just cannot let things go. The bottom line is, the only people who really know what happened that night were the people who were there. Whatever Ray did or didn’t do, that’s between him and a higher power.

Ray is frequently described as a bible-thumping Christian, which is only mildly annoying at the absolute most. Talking about God 90 times in a football interview is a little wearing on the eardrum, but is that really a bad thing or a reason to hate him? I don’t think so. What’s wrong with living your life with a high level of morality? Or using Jesus, Buddah, Allah, or Tony the Tiger as motivation to turn your life around? I see absolutely nothing wrong with that.

The pre-game dancing and the celebrating after allowing a 4 yard run? Again, mildly annoying at best. Not a reason to hate some who has done so much for the city of Baltimore. Lewis is probably the most passionate football player in the NFL, and that passion leaks out of every pore in his body on game day. I’ve been on the sideline with him and I swear to Tony the Tiger you can almost smell it.

The racism issue? Well…some people are stuck in their ways. No sense in arguing with an idiot because…well, you all know how that goes.

Forget all of the on-field aspects of this issue. We all know what Ray has done and what he continually brings to the table week after week and I won’t insult your intelligence by re-hashing his accomplishments. As a football player, he is simply amazing. Just look at the season he’s having this year.

I think all of his charity work and what he does for Baltimore is unfairly overlooked. Through the Ray Lewis 52 Foundation, Lewis raises money and lends personal support for disadvantaged youth. The incredible sums of money he donates (trust me…it’s A LOT) go unpublicized because HE chooses to not publish them. That’s extremely commendable, especially considering how easy it is to find how much money other players donate to certain organizations. All it takes is a simple Google search.

This November, Ray will do what he’s done for several years in this city and distribute Thanksgiving turkeys and other food to the less fortunate. In December, he’ll take kids Christmas shopping. In February, he’ll lead a fitness camp for children. This summer, he’ll continue doing Ray’s Summer Days, which have been extremely effective in raising money for his foundation. Ray Lewis has been an integral cog in the civic wheel of Baltimore, and if he choses to continue to embrace this city once he retires, he will become just as iconic as Johnny Unitas and Cal Ripken. Ray Lewis will always and forever be handcuffed to Baltimore, so I think it’s time ALL OF US embrace Ray for what he is–a great football player, philanthropist, and Baltimorian.

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