I love Ray Lewis, but that doesn’t mean I think he’s perfect. Case in point: his role in a 2000 murder trial, in which he pled guilty to a misdemeanor for obstructing justice in connection to the stabbing deaths of two men. And now, on the eve of Lewis’s retirement from the Ravens, NPR’s Mike Pesca thinks that the beloved linebacker’s misdeeds need to be as much a part of his story as his triumphs. However, as Pesca points out, there was ” not a single mention by two of the largest purveyors of NFL information of his role in a murder trial,” nor any allusion to it in the ten Lewis-related stories on NFL.com.
Pesca isn’t alleging a cover-up, exactly. The story got plenty of press at the time and was in no way swept under the table (except in the way that many NFL players’ crimes and misdemeanors get brushed off with a kind of boys-will-be-boys dismissal). Steelers fans bring it up all the time! But, Pesca points out, if we want to consider the man’s legacy — his whole legacy — we shouldn’t pretend it’s all been interceptions and charitable acts.
“The facts are that Lewis was indicted, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge and testified against the two men, who were eventually found not guilty,” Pesca writes. “He may also be a redeemed soul — and without a doubt he is one of the very few best defensive players in NFL history. Taken together, that is a more complete version of his legacy.” In general, I’m in favor of calling sports heroes out for their mistakes — perhaps if we did so, there wouldn’t be so many. What do you think?
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