Originally Posted by Douglas
Not that anyone asked for my opinion, but in light of all the Ray Lewis hate in here, here's my take on the guy.
It's self-evident that he was there when those guys were murdered, and that his friends murdered them. I think from the evidence that it's also clear he did not do it himself. And I'd also wager those two dead guys were no angels either - just the guys that came out on the losing end of a pathetic dispute.
I think he's like a lot of NFL, NBA, and other sports figures who come from shady backgrounds and then hit the big time. They become torn between their new success and their old friends from a much dodgier place; they resist abandoning their old friends and their baggage for fear of becoming sellouts. Without football, yes, I'm sure Ray Lewis could have been one of the guys killing, or being killed. It's all part of a completely fucked up cycle that afflicts many of our urban poor. And calling it an affliction does not completely absolve Lewis, or anyone in that situation, from responsibility for his actions. As a result of who he was and what he did, I understand why many loathe him, and might feel a special revulsion for the way he is lauded, these days with nary a mention of the murder rap. I feel some of those pangs myself...
But I do think that in Lewis' case, the life that he has led after the incident actually demonstrates that he is a changed man. He gives enormous amounts of his time and energy off the field. He is a mentor to literally hundreds of NFL players around the league who might end up in a similar situation to the one he was in. He apparently texts and speaks daily with dozens of players from nearly every NFL team. He gives motivational speeches and makes appearances at hundreds of community events, most of them unpaid. Some of this may just be an eyeball test, but I get the feeling from Lewis' open nature and the things he says that he is genuinely contrite in a way I don't see from, say, Mike Vick.
And he is genuinely an extremely hard worker. He puts more time in the weight room, more time in conditioning, and more time in the film room than anyone else. He's earned every inch of his football success - remember the knock on him was that he didn't have the size or speed to play at the NFL level. He's also a remarkable leader - his teammates absolutely worship him.
Anyways, I think he's a relatively changed man, and I've spend the last 10+ years cheering pretty loud when he came in and did that dance. Albeit with a slight pang of guilt.
I wish he'd have retired a few seasons ago, but he's been pretty fucking awesome.
I'd rather have dinner with Ray Ray than that sniveling bitch Tom Brady, btw.