Oh how the haters came out in the final weeks of Ray Lewis‘ career.
It all started out great as the Baltimore Ravens had their home finale against the Indianapolis Colts and, Lewis had his send off. The majority of the feedback was positive and people seemed to be happy for the legendary linebacker. Looking backing though, I think it was because most expected his career to end the following week against the Denver Broncos.
Nobody was giving the Ravens a chance to beat the Broncos, and therefore it quieted his critics. I’m sure some of them even tipped their caps after that final game in Baltimore; it was a picture perfect home finale filled with many feel good moments of Lewis playing to the crowd one last time.
But then the Ravens shocked the Broncos in double overtime, and Ray Lewis started talking. You could even say he starting preaching about his mission and the power of God.
Of course in this country when you say things with a religious theme, people are going to get upset. That’s exactly what happened with Lewis.
The more he talked, the more people started to turn on him. Eventually, people started bringing back talk of the double-murder charges. It was a classic snowball effect of negativity towards Ray Lewis as the playoffs rolled on. However, no one can deny that he welcomes criticism with his behaviors past and present. He’s a guy who’s going to have people that either love or hate him. There’s just not a lot of middle ground with person who’s led a life like Lewis has.
So as the Ravens continued their journey through the playoffs and defeated the New England Patriots en route to Super Bowl XLVII, fans were left with two solid weeks of Ray Lewis talk. Then of course the “bombshell” drops that he took ‘deer antler spray,’ which contains a banned substance. No one saw that coming, and it only threw gasoline on the already burning fire of negativity directed at Lewis.
The point I’m trying to make is that people were just overexposed to Ray Lewis and many showed their true feelings towards him, and specifically towards his past. The irony in all of it is that the religion that Lewis preaches, also preaches forgiveness. Many people simply haven’t forgiven Lewis for what happened 13 years ago in Atlanta. The public has never heard the whole truth, and the evidence suggests that Lewis knows exactly what took place that Super Bowl night.
It’s definitely fair to not like Ray Lewis.
Personally, I’m all about second chances. Whatever happened in Atlanta, only Lewis knows, and he has to live with it. I’m certain that he’s moved on from it, and by all accounts he’s a completely different person now.
But the larger point that we must look at is that Lewis is just a football player, and sometimes as a society we put athletes on too large a pedestal. I really just liked Ray Lewis the football player, and the leader. He was damn good at both, and as far as his life lessons, that’s when I tune out. If he thinks he’s on a mission from God, good for him. I’ll go about my day.
Remember Ray Lewis for what he did on the football field. Remember him for being a great leader, and also remember he’s not going anywhere. He’ll be coming into your living rooms as an ESPN studio analyst starting next season. Who knows, maybe that will finally be too much Ray Lewis for me? Or maybe I’ll just change the channel…