It’s apparent that most football fans who don’t have a horse in the race are rooting for the storybook ending for Ray Lewis.
A man whose career and persona, personify the essence of what pro football is all about.
A man whose raw athleticism and sheer grit and toughness make him a god in a game played my men; however, he is not the man we should be pulling for.
If we’re pulling for the fairy tale finish to a career that will undoubtedly end in Canton then we should be pulling for Tony Gonzalez’s Atlanta Falcons.
Gonzalez and Lewis careers are as different as cake and tofu. Lewis is a ham who loves the attention while Gonzalez would rather be anonymous and let his play do his talking.
Lewis has always played for winners and the Ravens have already won a Super Bowl during his career. Gonzalez just won his first playoff game a few hours ago after 16 years of trying.
However, these men also differ in a way that has nothing to do with their achievements on the football field. These men have differing personas off it.
For the most of Ray Lewis’s career, he has never been in trouble off the field. The key words being “for most of his career”. A recent USA Today article has highlighted the other side of the Ray Lewis public persona that has seemed to have been buried in an unmarked grave, just to be forgotten about forever.
The piece highlights the families feelings on the popular future Hall of Famer, and their convictions in his guilt. The evidence and shady manner in which the whole events took place are also captured in the piece written by Ben Schrotenboer.
“Only Lewis pleaded guilty in relation to the case: for obstruction of justice, a misdemeanor. He originally was charged with two counts of murder but struck a deal with prosecutors in exchange for his testimony against two of his companions that night, Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting.
Lewis never directly linked his two friends to the killings, and they were acquitted. Lewis had testified that Oakley, Sweeting and another man had gone to a sporting goods store the previous day to buy knives. Baker’s blood later was found in Lewis’ limo. Having fled the crime scene, Lewis told the limo’s passengers to “keep their mouths shut.” The white suit Lewis was wearing that night—on Super Bowl Sunday—was never found.”
Lewis would later settle out of court on a lawsuit filed against him by one of the victim’s grandparents. Even though it’s not an admission of guilt but innocent men rarely settled out of court. Michael Jackson settled out of court as did Ben Roethlisberger.
And Lewis’s public works through charity and helping young men from disadvantaged homes better themselves speaks for itself. One must wonder how much is it genuine and how much is it a calculated PR rehabilitation?
Also name me a football player who acts and talks with so much passion and conviction than this man? It’s almost Tebow-esque with the persona he plays. It’s unlike anyone most normal people can say they know. If Tim Tebow’s good church boy persona can be questioned in authenticity then so can Lewis’s? Who else could benefit from such a persona than a man who was once accused of murder?
Whether Ray Lewis had any direct consequence to the death of those two men is something that nobody except Ray Lewis, his friends, and the two men slain will ever know; however, one must admit that there is too much mystery around the events to make us wonder what happened that night.
One thing that is for certain is Tony Gonzalez has never even been arrested—let alone accused of murder. There is no mystery and shadiness that hover over this man’s career.
Whether you believe Ray Lewis or not—this is an undeniable fact.
Which is why the real fairy tale ending we should all be rooting for is Tony Gonzalez walking out of the Louisiana Superdome carrying the Lombardi Trophy.
Not everyone forgets and forgives.