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Yes, you should include “Atlanta” in a discussion about Ray Lewis’ career…

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Yes, you should include “Atlanta” in a discussion about Ray Lewis’ career…

Posted on 09 January 2013 by Drew Forrester

I’m amazed at how many idiots with keyboards suddenly decided last week or even earlier this week was the right time to chime in with their “Ray Lewis opinion”.

I know how it works, of course.  ”We have papers to sell,” say the editors.  ”Can’t you come up with something inflammatory about that black football player in Baltimore who killed a couple of people a few years ago and never paid the price for it because he’s an athlete?”

And the writers, because they want work, jump on the angle of being different.  ”Everyone is going to glorify the career of Ray Lewis.  I’ll think outside the box and remind everyone about those murders.”

Well, anyone who writes about the career of Ray Lewis has every right to mention the events that transpired in Atlanta back in January of 2000.

If you were writing or discussing the career of Ray Lewis and you didn’t mention or refer to “Atlanta”, you’d be skipping one of the most important moments in Ray’s life.  It changed him, for the better.  And he’s admitted that.

Earlier this week, an Orlando Sentinel columnist wrote THIS PIECE saying “Let’s not forget the two guys who were murdered in Atlanta” (while we celebrate the career of Ray Lewis).

Yeah, I know that’s exactly what I was thinking about on Sunday.  OK, maybe not.

But that’s what the Orlando columnist decided to focus on because…well…because he didn’t have anything better to offer, I suppose.

Atlanta and “the incident” is definitely part of Ray Lewis’ life.  No one would argue that.

Of course, if you wrote about the life of Muhammad Ali, you’d have to at least remind everyone that he was a draft dodger.  He was, I’ll remind you, arrested and found guilty of draft evasion.

I don’t remember anyone writing a story about the “other” kids who did go to Vietnam and died for their country whenever the Ali career is remembered.

If you were going to chronicle the eight year Presidential run of Bill Clinton, you’d have to include his dalliance with Monica Lewinsky and the impeachment hearings that followed.

By the way, where’s the story saying, “Let’s not forget about Monica”?  Her life changed the day her name surfaced.

You can’t cover the life and times of Pete Rose without focusing on the fact that while he managed a team in the major leagues, he bet on games, including those involving his own team.

And, as Lance Armstrong is finding out right now, you can’t discuss or cover his incredible cycling career without including commentary about his alleged use of performance enhancing drugs.

Just like the Atlanta story with Ray Lewis, all of the other “bumps in the road” of Ali, Clinton, Rose and Armstrong turned out to be indelible impressions we can’t possibly ignore when assessing the accomplishments of those people.

But, in Lewis’ case specifically, there was a significant development (a murder charge, completely unfounded, of course) followed by a much smaller accusation and a guilty plea of obstruction of justice.  Years later, the Atlanta DA who was originally assigned to the Ray Lewis case admitted he charged the linebacker with murder simply to “scare him” into coming clean with what he knew about the night’s events.

That’s weird…very few people who wrote about the Atlanta incident last week mentioned that one little nugget of (important) information.

Lewis, as we in Baltimore know, has become an iconic figure here because of his great play on the field and his dedication to the community and the inner city.  Naturally, if you’re some sort of asshat in Orlando, Florida who hasn’t been in Charm City on Thanksgiving to see Ray distribute 5,000 turkeys and serve a meal with his mom in the house as the co-chef, you wouldn’t know anything about that sort of stuff.

And you wouldn’t include it in your story when the boss says, “Go cover the Ray Lewis retirement thing.”

You would, though, write a story that asks us to “remember the murder victims” of the Atlanta incident because, well, authoring a “redemption story” just wouldn’t be cool.

Atlanta is part of Ray’s life the same way Cassius Clay saying, “I’m not going to fight for my country” is part of his history.  One of those stories included the murder of a couple of miscreants who were trying to make a quick hit after a nightclub closed and, some would say, wound up on the bad end of their own criminal intentions.  The other story was about a man’s religious beliefs and a decision that would lead many to criticize him THEN and applaud him NOW.

Ray Lewis didn’t murder anyone.

But we keep hearing about it, over and over, because some people just don’t feel like doing the work that’s required to write or comment on something sensibly.

It’s part of Ray’s life.

Just like serving turkeys and winning a Super Bowl and retiring and being a first-ballot Hall of Famer is part of it.

 

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Your Monday Reality Check: Stupidity alive in Lewis retirement reaction

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Your Monday Reality Check: Stupidity alive in Lewis retirement reaction

Posted on 07 January 2013 by Glenn Clark

Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel might be a decent sports columnist. I’m not a regular reader of his, as I assume he doesn’t spend much time listening to “The Reality Check” on WNST. (But he should.)

I don’t think Mike Bianchi is an idiot. I have no reason to believe he’s incapable of serving in his capacity as a columnist.

I just can’t understand why Mike Bianchi thought it acceptable to put together this incredibly stupid paragraph in his Sunday column about Baltimore Ravens LB Ray Lewis…

To fathom the scope of his redemptive powers, all you have to do is click on the two separate Wikipedia pages of Lewis and Michael Vick. In the opening paragraph of Vick’s, it mentions his notorious episode of dog-killing. In Lewis’ opening paragraph, it chronicles his Pro Bowls, his Super Bowl MVP, even the torn triceps that kept him sidelined for much of this season. But there is not a single mention of the fact that he once was charged with murdering two men.

He actually scripted this paragraph and thought it was acceptable to say “okay, I made a great point here.”

He never thought that for any reason he should include a disclaimer that said “the obvious difference between the two being that Ray Lewis had the murder charges against him dropped due to a stunning lack of evidence while Vick served 19 months in prison for his role in a dogfighting ring.”

That would have been a really important sentence to include. The other option would have been for Bianchi to avoid the Lewis-Vick comparison altogether and use his column space to intelligently inform less knowledgable sports fans that the transgressions of the two weren’t remotely similar.

Unfortunately Bianchi and a few others didn’t do that. Instead, they chose to play to the crowd that represents the lowest common denominator. The crowd that wants to tell you about how Ray Lewis once murdered two people in Atlanta.

The events of January 31, 2000 cannot and should not be ignored in discussing the legacy of Ray Lewis.

Lewis’ dedication to spending the last 13 years changing his legacy has been one of the most admirable sports stories of the 21st century. As we approach the final game of his certain future Hall of Fame career, I am glad many talented writers (including the exceptional Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports) took the time to tell the story without ever crossing the line that Sporting News’ David Whitley did.

That’s the line where you ask a question like this within your column about Lewis’ retirement announcement.

“Oh yeah, did he also get away with murder?”

That’s an actual line that was written by a significant national columnist (although in fairness, the same national columnist who compared Colin Kaepernick to a con because he has tattoos).

Whitley appeared on my radio show last week after I told him I had taken issue with his comments. He essentially admitted he should have been more specific in making it clear that Ray Lewis did not get away with murder.

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