So it is all over, the confetti has fallen, the trip to DisneyWorld is over and the Baltimore Ravens are officially Super Bowl Champions. Although Ravens QB Joe Flacco was officially named Super Bowl MVP this season, this championship run will always be remembered as “Ray’s Last Ride”. Ray Lewis, statistically one of the best linebackers to ever play the game announced at the beginning of the season that this would be his last season. The Super Bowl would be his last game. When someone of his caliber and presence in the league retires, we all ask one thing: “How will he be remembered?”
Now casual fans of the game of football have a very similar opinion of the career he has had. He is one of the toughest and best to ever play the game. He was an inspiration to his team as well as the public who watched a man grow from a troubled background without a father into a freshman beast playing on one of the best defenses in the country at the U (Miami U) all the way through his 17 year NFL career with the Baltimore Ravens. He finished his career as a 2 time Super Bowl Champ, a Super Bowl MVP, a 13-time Pro Bowler, a 7-time First Team All-Pro and many other accolades. He is often considered one of the top 3 linebackers of all time.
Sounds pretty good, right? Like someone we should all look up to, some to admire for his work ethic and his determination to succeed. But, there is more to this story that no one really talks about…until now…
Let’s take a step back, it’s early in the morning New Year’s Eve in 2000, Super Bowl XXXIV has just ended and you are at a Super Bowl viewing party in Atlanta, GA. You are on your way home and just 2 miles down the road you see a fight break out and you see Ray Lewis, in a fresh-white suit with his two friends Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting going at it with Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar. You continue driving and choose not to get involved.
Now let’s talk about what happened in that fight. Baker and Lollar were stabbed to death, Lewis and his friends were arrested 11 days later and indicted on murder and aggravated-assault charges. So that’s where the story should end right? You have 5 men in a fight, 2 are stabbed to death and no one else is around, so the 3 others get charged with murder, right? Well, apparently not.
The suit Lewis was wearing, although suspected to have been ditched near the scene, has never been recovered. Baker’s blood was found in Lewis’ limo, but Lewis agrees to testify against Oakley and Sweeting in return for dropping his murder charge. He is charged with a misdemeanor of obstruction of justice for which he receives 1 year of probation, no jail time. Ray Lewis also reaches a settlement with both Baker and Lollar’s families. In June of the same year, Oakley and Sweeting are acquitted of all charges. Many believe there is more to the story that Lewis knows but will not tell the cameras. As Boomer Esiason said in an interview with Lewis and Shannon Sharpe, “He was involved in a double murder, And I’m not sure he’s ever given the answers we were looking for. He knows what went on there.”
There is also controversy about his recent miraculous recovery from torn triceps to participate in this year’s playoff run. Lewis partially tore his triceps during an October 14th game, and returned for the playoff run that Baltimore went on. Now, what is interesting about this is that the injury that Lewis suffered from usually has a long recovery and rehab period, which prompted the Ravens to declare Lewis out for the season. However, allegedly using deer-antler spray (which contains a substance on the NFL banned substance list) Lewis was able to return for the playoffs.
How will future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis be remembered? Will his accolades and accomplishments continue to serve as an inspiration to many? Will the double-murder and deer-antler spray controversies stain his illustrious career?
Tell us what you think!! How should we interpret Ray Lewis as a player, and a man?