A few days ago the Baltimore Ravens won the Superbowl, defeating the San Fransisco 49ers. I knew it was going to happen. Once they squeaked by the Broncos in Denver and once they beat the Patriots convincingly in New England, I knew it was them, not the 49ers, that had all the momentum, all the intangibles, going into that game. A lot of people at the building where I work were high on San Fran, and I was telling them for days it wasn’t their year. That’s how it seems to have been lately: a team gets hot at the right time, they get all their guys healthy, and they go on a run. The same thing happened with the Giants last year. Even though I was pretty sure the Ravens were going to win, I was rooting for the 49ers. Why? Well, the most obvious reason is that I’m from Cincinnati, and the Ravens are one of the Bengals natural rivals in the AFC North. But more so than that, I wanted to see one particular Raven deprived of his dream…one of the more controversial figures to ever play in the NFL, Ray Lewis.
Ray Lewis was already a one time Superbowl Champion, from the last time the team won a title, back in 2000. It was after winning that championship that Lewis and two of his friends were involved in the stabbing deaths of two other men, Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar, outside of an Atlanta nightclub. Lewis pled guilty to a misdemeanor obstruction of justice charge in connection with the case, in exchange for his testimony against his two companions. They were acquitted of the charges, and then, years later, Lewis reached a settlement with the families of the two men who were killed, the details of which were never made public.
Since then, Lewis found God, and, like Tim Tebow, he now can’t appear on television or anywhere near a microphone without running his mouth about his faith, and a higher power, and the Lord works in mysterious ways, and on, and on, and on. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know how I feel about organized religion anyway, but the one rule that I always really go back to as it relates to a person’s faith is that if you believe, that’s your business, but, for God’s sake, if I may use the expression, keep it to yourself. I don’t want to hear about it. And I especially don’t want to hear about it from a guy like Lewis, who has struck me in the years since the murders as particularly disingenuous. I think the guy’s scum, to be perfectly up front about it, and I didn’t want him to win a second Superbowl title because scum shouldn’t achieve their goals. When the game was over, I turned the TV off immediately, because I didn’t want them to get the microphone anywhere near Lewis. I knew that here was a guy who may have played a pivotal role in the murder of two people, who at the very least made misleading statements to the police, who was now going to start talking about how he was living his life for God, and this victory was his ultimate vindication. The whole thing is quite a story…a completely disgusting one. I give a lot of credit to Boomer Esiason, who, on live TV before the game, was the only one of the announcers who was willing to call Lewis out on his bullshit.
Look, I know a of people in Baltimore love Ray Lewis, and will always love him. He had a hall of fame career as a football player, and, I’m sure, accomplished all of his professional goals. It’s hard not to love a guy who brings a championship back to your city. Hell, the Bengals have never won a Superbowl, and sometimes I believe any sort of behavior by anyone on the team would be justified, just to have that ultimate feeling of victory and superiority. But sometimes sports, which really, when you get right down to it, don’t count for anything, run up against a bigger picture, a larger reality. The reality is that two men are dead, and I’m sure their families miss them. Ray Lewis knew more about what happened that night than he let on, and because he has money and he’s a celebrity, like O.J. Simpson, he and his friends were able to get away with murder. He was able to end his career on a high note, but no matter how much he talks about having reformed, I’m never going to buy it, and I’m sickened, in that regard, by the way this football season ended. It’s bad enough that a divisional rival walked away with the title, but the fact that a murdering piece of garbage got to finish his career by receiving an entirely undeserved accolade fairly turns my stomach.