The Linebacker Liberation

Ray Lewis is an enigma.  The famed Baltimore Ravens linebacker has gone through trials and tribulations in his 16 plus NFL career, but currently finds that he tops the admiration and accolade’s list as he sits healing on the injured reserve list – with the potential to return later in the 2012 season.

No matter how you view Lewis in any light nowadays, whether it be his charitable contributions and the opening of the Ray Lewis 52 foundation to give assistance to disadvantaged youths – to his leadership and play on the field including 13 Pro Bowl appearances, 7 first team all pro selections, and 2 AP Defensive Player of the Year awards, you must also put into account past accusations and possible actions that set in motion a fire storm for an emotional and talented luminary.

That’s where the enigmatic part comes in.

Lewis was indicted on murder and aggravated assault charges shortly after the Super Bowl in Atlanta following the 1999 season.  Lewis was accused of playing a part in the deaths of two men in the Atlanta area, with 2 of his friends also being involved in the fray.  The prosecution argued that Lewis’ all white suit he was wearing the night of the murders was blood stained and disposed of, never to be found. Lewis, in return for his testimony and guilty plea, was given a lesser charge of obstruction of justice and served a sentence of 12 months of probation.  He was also fined $250,000 by the league, thought to be the highest fine levied against a single player for non-substance abuse issues.  His friends were subsequently acquitted of the murder charges later that year.  This is an important factor in how we view Ray Lewis then AND now.

We are all better served to remember all of the things that happen in our favorite iconic athlete’s lives, on and off the field of play.  The court of public opinion may always view Ray Lewis as being guilty of something far worse than what he eventually was charged with.  The fact that his alleged accomplices were acquitted and Lewis went on to be a charitable, giving, and monstrous larger than life figure in a game that is loved around the world, has propelled Lewis toward the top of the NFL’s all-time greats list.  Not having him on the grid iron on Sunday’s is a loss for every football fan, not just those in Baltimore.  Get well soon, Ray, and get back out there doing that funky tweaked up dance, making hard hits, and leading your team to victory.