How the Ravens incredibly ended up here deserved more coverage than the stench of deer-antler spray.
Joe Flacco beating Peyton Manning and Tom Brady on back-to-back weeks was a better story than whether Lewis would deign to perform his interpretive “squirrel dance” one final time. But we hardly wrote and talked about that.
Instead it was all Ray, all the time.
He announced his pending retirement via the usual cathartic release on a podium in Owings Mills, Md. — on the Wednesday before Baltimore’s first playoff game. It was a decision at least some in the organization were not happy about, according to two former Ravens and a current team official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Notice that neither Coach John Harbaugh nor management or ownership was at his side at the time.
Some dichotomy, no, the most unifying presence on either team in the big game was also the player primarily responsible for making this run mostly about him.
“I don’t look back; I look forward,” he said this past week, referring to any event, report or fact that portrayed him in less than an illuminating light. “Everything that’s behind me, suppose to be behind me. Everything that’s in front of me, God has predetermined to be in front of me.”
It’s just not that easy. Because any authentic discussion about Lewis’s legacy needs to begin with one premise and one premise only: The past counts.
Now, we can talk about the warrior on the field and the charitable man off of it. We can say great things about what he’s done to turn his life around, speak of the thousands he’s touched — from ailing, anonymous children to the greatest swimmer in the world, Michael Phelps, who said Lewis helped him believe in himself again before the London Games.
But before we get there, we have to go back to Atlanta 13 years ago — even if Lewis can’t bear bringing it up.
“Nobody here is really qualified to ask those questions,” he said, refusing to address the stabbing deaths of two men after a confrontation outside a bar after the 2000 Super Bowl that resulted in Lewis pleading guilty to obstruction of justice, testifying against two former friends who were later acquitted and civil-court payouts to at least two members of the victims’ families.
Calling him “murderer” is wrong, slanderous. But he is no more a martyr today than Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar are alive.