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.