This Sunday, Ray Lewis will take the field for what could be his last game (although Vegas seems to be more convinced of that than I am). There will be a million shots of him before, during and after the game. Ray Lewis dancing! Ray Lewis giving a pump up speech! Ray Lewis looking intense on the sidelines! Ray Lewis jumping on the pile at the end of a six yard run! The words “future Hall of Famer” will be breathlessly repeated time and time again by Simms and Nantz. We will hear about his “leadership”, his “dedication to the game” and his “work ethic”.
We won’t hear at all about the inconvenient fact that he most likely was directly involved in two murders and got away with it. For some reason, that little bit seems to have been stricken from the record with Ray.
The fact that the majority of the public and media has willfully chosen to ignore this is beyond frustrating. The fact that Lewis is undoubtedly a Hall of Fame level player shouldn’t overshadow involvement in a murder. The fact that the rehabilitated Ray does plenty of charity work, openly speaks about religion and is beloved by his teammates shouldn’t overshadow his involvement in a fucking murder!
How is this difficult for people to grasp?
Oh, so you say Ray’s name was cleared in court. That technically is true; Ray notoriously struck a deal with the prosecution, resulting in his murder charge being dropped in exchange for testimony against his two friends also entangled in the murder case and an obstruction of justice charge.
We know that the murders happened. Richard Lollar and Jacinth Baker are not dead by accident. They were brutally stabbed repeatedly in the heart and liver. Their wounds suggest that the knives used were twisted once within their bodies to maximize the damage. This clearly was a case of cold-blooded murder.
We know that the stabbings occurred in the midst of a brawl between the two victims and Ray’s entourage. In other words, Lewis, Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting were in a fight with Lollar and Baker which resulted in those two men getting viciously stabbed and left to bleed out in the street.
We know that the three men fled the scene in Lewis’ limo. We know that Lewis’ white suit, stained red with blood, was mysteriously disposed of and never found. We know that Lewis told everyone in the limo to “keep their mouths shut”, a statement that played a large role in his being charged with obstruction of justice. We know that Lewis admitted in court to giving a “misleading” account of the past night’s events.
Does any of this seem like the actions of an innocent man?
Evelyn Sparks, a female passenger of the limo, testified under oath that she saw another passenger dispose of a laundry bag in a trash can outside a fast food restaurant. What seems more plausible? The prosecution’s suspicions that the bag contained Lewis’ evidence-stained suit? Or Lewis’ claim that he simply has no idea what became of that suit? Amnesia sure is convenient, huh Ray?
Oakley and Sweeting were cleared of their charges largely because the testimony of Ray Lewis was vague as hell. It was also a steaming load of horseshit; Ray knew what happened. It he was actually as unsure about what happened as his testimony claimed, he wouldn’t have known of anything to tell everyone to shut up about in the limo.
What seems more likely? That Ray Lewis and his friends are completely innocent men? Or that the combination of suspicious cover-up behavior and the kind of legal defense a four year, $26 million contract can buy was able to manipulate the system enough for all three to walk?
Are we seriously naive enough to think that acquittal, particularly acquittal of a rich, powerful celebrity, in the US Justice System is equivalent with innocence?
Finally, in the end, was there enough concrete evidence to convict Ray Lewis of murder? No. Is there plenty circumstantial evidence that strongly suggests that he was heavily involved? Abso-fucking-lutely. At the very best, he explicitly helped two men get away with murder. Pardon me for convicting him in the court of my own goddamn opinion.
Shhhhhhhh…that was like…a long time ago, man
Many have pointed out the irony of Ray being hired by ESPN, noting that the Worldwide Leader is a subsidiary of Disney. When Lewis was voted the MVP of Super Bowl XXXV, less than a year after this aforementioned, ahem, “incident”, it was quarterback Trent Dilfer and not Lewis who delivered the famous “I’m going to Disney World!” catchphrase.
However, the fact that a company that once shunned Lewis is now hiring him isn’t a sign of his “redemption.” It’s a sign of how full of shit everyone who have fallen for Ray’s act are. None of the details of the murder case have changed. The only thing that’s changed is people’s perception, as they seem to stick fingers in their ears and shout “LA LA LA LA LA LA!” instinctively whenever they are confronted with a realistic interpretation of the evidence surrounding that case.
You know whats a crime? (Well, besides a famous athlete literally getting away with murder). Ray’s last stand has received non-stop, slobbering coverage while Tony Gonzalez has been relatively ignored. Let’s compare these two. Both are clearly in the discussion for best ever at their respective positions; sure fire, first-ballot Hall of Famers. Both are renowned for their incredible longevity. Both are beloved by their teammates and fans. However, Gonzalez has long been known as one of the good guys in the NFL. Ironically, he is known for saving lives, not taking them.
Also lets not forget Tony G. is a much better football player at this point in his career than Ray is in his. When was the last time Ray made a play close to as good as Tony’s toe-tapping touchdown last week?
In the end, I don’t care how much Ray’s teammates love him. I don’t care that he talks crazy-as-all shit about God. I don’t care about his stupid fucking dance. I don’t care about how much he undeniably loves the game. I don’t care how good he is at obnoxious self-promotion (and he’s great at that). He was heavily involved in a murder and got away with it. I hope this weekend is his last game and that the Ravens lose in an unfathomably heartbreaking fashion.
I’ll miss Tony Gonzalez. I will be happy to see Ray Lewis gone.