Ravens’ Ray Lewis centre of attention,
Ravens star focused on what God has in store for his future
They didn’t put Ray Lewis in the middle; they put him between the 15- and 20-yard line, near the end of a row of podiums lined up under the vast roof of the Superdome. But Ray Lewis was still in the middle of it all. He has always been in the middle of it all.
Super Bowl Media Day is a mix of fluff and stunts and the occasional spasm of seriousness and Ray Lewis wasn’t about to let it become anything other than that.
He was asked adoring questions about his pending retirement, about his leadership, about his significance. He spoke at length about his family, God, his last ride, his legacy. He talked for a long time. He smiled a lot.
And when he was asked about the double murder of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar in 2000 at the Super Bowl in Atlanta — about how their families find it hard to watch Lewis play and be venerated after he pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice, after an unsuccessful murder trial failed to convict two of his friends, after he paid civil settlements to both families — Lewis stopped smiling.
“I truly believe that if you take a 13-year break on anything, as hard as it is for them, as hard as it is about the things that you want me to speak about, and you want me to report about, I just don’t believe, honestly, that this is the appropriate time for that,” said Lewis, wearing a Gatorade towel around his neck.
“Because the sympathy that I have for that family, or what me and my family have endured because of all of that, nobody here is really qualified to ask those questions.
“And I just truly feel that this is God’s time and whatever His time is, let it be His will. Don’t try to please everybody with your words and try to make everybody’s story sound right. At this time, I would rather direct my questions in other places, because I live with that every day.” His voice hardened. “You can maybe take a break, but I don’t. I live with it every day of my life and I’d rather not speak about that today.”
The next question, from a Japanese TV crew, was about how to slow down 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Later, Lewis ignored a question from the same reporter who had asked about the families. His answer about the families was not included in the NFL’s abbreviated transcript, sent to reporters. He moved on.
The last time Lewis was at Media Day, before Baltimore won the Super Bowl in 2001, it was just one year after the stabbings and it was combative.
This time, he was in charge of the experience.
Lewis, the linebacker, will be a Hall of Famer and he has reportedly already been hired by ESPN to become a benign chortling head on their NFL panels.
He is highly respected by players, coaches and the commissioner. Ray Lewis, in the NFL, has been forgiven by the powers that be.
So, the stunt media played with him — Ines Sainz squeezed her way to the front of the queue ahead of the guy from Nickelodeon who was dressed like a superhero and who eventually got to ask his question about the 49ers farting in Ray’s locker. (“How would they get in my locker?” Lewis asked.)
He was given a University of Miami hat from a Miami TV reporter and he was asked by an entertainment reporter if he had ever been catfished. He laughed.
“I may have been catfished once or twice,” he said.
There was some more choppy water. Lewis was asked about a Sports Illustrated report published Tuesday that he had used a spray containing a banned extract from deer antlers, IGF-1, to help recover from his torn triceps this season.
The link first surfaced two years ago in a report from Yahoo! that detailed Lewis’s text messages with the seller, a man named Mitch Ross. The 37-year-old linebacker, with a panther tattoo creeping up his sleeve and his elbows a tangle of scars, bristled again.
“That was a two-year-old story that you want me to refresh,” Lewis said. “I won’t give him the credit to even mention his name or his antics in my speeches or my moment. I can’t do it. So, I won’t even speak about it. Because I’ve been in this business 17 years and nobody has ever got up with me every morning and trained with me. Every test I’ve ever took in the NFL, there’s never been a question if I’ve ever even thought about using anything.”
Later, when asked directly if he had ever used the spray, Lewis said: “No, never. Never.”
Nobody mentioned that IGF-1 is only detectable in blood tests, which the NFL still does not employ, and Lewis went back to talking in superlatives.
He said he carries an Art Modell T-shirt everywhere because it takes his thoughts to a deeper place. He talked about his inspirations — Miami was the best university, his children are the best children — and about everything that was so significant to him. He talked about his conversations with God and the dreams nobody else can see until they come true. And he talked about how prayer helped propel the Ravens through the adversity of the season to the Super Bowl. It was all very dramatic. Why couldn’t he just say that, as a fellow parent, he felt deeply for the families of the two men who died that night, all those years ago? Well, he didn’t. He was asked how much of his past should factor in his legacy. He answered that.
“Everybody here has a past,” he said, staring straight ahead. “It’s what you do with it. It’s what you do with your future. It ain’t what you do with your past, your past is what’s behind you. It’s what you do with your future that’s most important … and based off the impact of me touching people’s lives, it’s the ultimate. So, I don’t look back. I look forward. Because everything that’s behind me is behind me. Everything that’s in front of me is what God’s predetermined to be in front of me.”
Ray Lewis will leave football on his own terms. He will leave a complicated legacy behind. He has been trying to move away from that sidewalk in Atlanta for a long time. He does not intend to stop.
Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis was all smiles at Super Bowl Media Day at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Tuesday in New Orleans. However, Lewis did not want to go into great detail about the double murder in 2000 in which he pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice.