Ray Lewis Exits as a Champion but His Tainted Legacy Remains

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Ray Lewis Exits as a Champion but His Tainted Legacy Remains
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

For the first time in my sports-watching life, I didn’t watch a single second of the Super Bowl.

Not one.

Haven’t seen any replays or highlights either.  And not planning it.  My reasoning can be explained by two simple words.

Ray Lewis.

Since Lewis announced his pending retirement towards the end of the season, the non-stop slobber fest that ensued has been nothing short of nauseating.

Lewis deserves credit for not making the announcement during training camp.  Such an admission would’ve resulted in the obligatory Ray Lewis farewell tour at each of Baltimore’s road games.  Lewis would’ve been a distraction the entire season.  Though it is highly unlikely that they would’ve admitted it, his teammates and coaches surely would’ve grown tired of answering questions about him before and after each and every game.

The on-field accomplishments, especially at a position as physically and mentally demanding as middle linebacker, of Lewis can’t be argued.  In five years, he will undoubtedly take his place in the NFL Hall of Fame.  His name occupies the same rarefied air as other great linebackers like Dick Butkus,
Mike Singletary and Lawrence Taylor.

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But Lewis’ off-field resume doesn’t exactly make him a candidate to be canonized in any of the next few lifetimes.

As much as Lewis tries to run from it and sell his rehabbed, repackaged image, one night 13 years ago in Atlanta will continue to chase him.

Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar were fatally stabbed to death outside of an Atlanta nightclub after a scuffle with Joseph Sweeting and Reginald Oakley, according to reports.  Sweating and Oakley left the club with Lewis and his friends.

What exactly happened that fateful night?  Doubtful the public will ever know the complete truth.

The prosecution granted Lewis one year’s probation on an obstruction of justice charge in exchange for his testimony against Sweeting and Oakley.  Both men were acquitted of assault and murder charges.

Lewis settled civil suits with the families of both victims.

This is not intended to suggest Lewis is guilty of the murders.  But the police had enough evidence to arrest him for obstruction of justice for his role immediately following the melee.

Less than a year after his arrest, the Ravens, with Lewis anchoring their defense, were Super Bowl champions.  His career resumed, and soared, from there.  He’s one of the NFL’s poster boys
and walks away on top.  Lewis is rumored to have a job at ESPN lined up.

Life is good for Ray Lewis.

He’ll forever be admired by throngs of NFL fans because of his motivational skills, his attention-begging dance routine, and mostly, his play.

The families of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar have been remanded to footnote status.  Justice never found the men who murdered their sons.

And that’s a tragedy.

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