Jobu tells us why he might be rooting for the Ravens come Super Bowl Sunday.
One of the biggest stories of this Super Bowl, and the entire 2012 NFL Playoffs, has been Ray Lewis‘ quest for one more Super Bowl ring before he retires after the season. As the Ravens celebrated “Festivus” (what they call the playoffs), we heard all about Lewis’ quest, and how he was using it to motivate himself, and his teammates, to win it all this year. Seemingly, Lewis’ motivational tactics have really done the job, as he has elevated his game and the Ravens have rolled over the Indianapolis Colts (the Chuck Pagano story), the Denver Broncos (the Peyton Manning resurgence story) and the New England Patriots (Brady’s quest to return to the top). It seems Lewis’ story has been better than all of them, and I think that’s legit.
I wasn’t always a fan of Ray Lewis. Twelve years ago, the Ravens beat my Giants in pretty convincing fashion in Super Bowl XXXV. Lewis recorded 3 solo tackles, assisted on 2 other and batted down 4 passes to earn himself Super Bowl MVP honors. He had a great performance for a defense that basically shut the Giants out (their only TD came on a 97-yard kickoff return by Ron Dixon). That alone may have made me angry and bitter about Ray Lewis, but it was what happened in the aftermath of the previous year’s Super Bowl that already had me, and a lot of Americans, rooting against Ray Lewis against the Giants.
The night of Super Bowl XXXIV, Lewis attended a party in Atlanta. There, his entourage got into a fight with some people, and two men ended up stabbed to death. Lewis and two associates were questioned by police, and Lewis initially lied. Whether he did it to protect himself, his friends or his budgeoning NFL career doesn’t really matter. The fact is that he lied to police. He and his friends were arrested and charged with murder. Lewis eventually made a deal, testifying against his friends and receiving a 12-month probation sentence for obstruction of justice.
That fateful night really has haunted Lewis. While the murder charges were dropped, and no one thinks that he was the one who stabbed the two men, it’s hard to shake that kind of thing from your reputation. Since that incident, and the lawsuits he settled with victims of the families, Lewis has been a pretty model citizen. He’s become an emotional leader for his team, a motivational speaker off the field and seemingly an all-around good guy.
I’m not saying that he’s the best person in the world, I don’t know the guy. All I know is his newly cultivated public image. He could be better or worse than his new generous and inspirational public persona. I can’t deny, however, the good work he does with his Ray Lewis 52 Foundation, a non-profit organization he started to help disadvantaged youth. His charitable activities have gained him a lot awards away from the field, lots of respect around the league and made him one of the league’s more public figures.
The Ray Lewis story has had many ups and downs. He’s gone from college superstar to possible murderer to Super Bowl MVP to good guy face of the NFL. No matter who wins on Sunday, his career will come to an end. Part of me really wants him to have his happy ending, no matter what Wes Welker‘s idiot wife has to say about it.
UPDATE 3:36 PM – It seems that a story is coming out in Monday’s Sports Illustrated that says that Lewis was given a product that contained a banned substance to help him through his recovery for a torn tricep muscle earlier this season. Lewis has categorically denied these accusations, and has never tested positive for a banned substance, so I’ll be interested to see if anything comes of these accusations… Depending on those results, I might have to change my tune about the Superstar Linebacker.
Featured image courtesy of: Patrick Smith/Getty Images
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