The spotlight shines on the several sides of Ray Lewis

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 30, 2013 - 7:31 AM

As the Ravens' star linebacker and undisputed leader puts the wraps on a Hall of Fame career, a new controversy and old questions arise.

NEW ORLEANS - There has to be more than one Ray Lewis, right?

One man -- at least one who isn't Tim Tebow -- can't possibly cause such a wide grab bag of mixed emotions that are so bright and yet so dark, so full of love and yet so filled with hatred.

One man can't be both a throwback warrior and a modern-day drama queen. One man's reputation can't be so clear-cut when it comes to legendary play and yet so blurred by controversy off the field.

But that's Ray Anthony Lewis Jr., whose 17-year Hall of Fame career is winding down with all those emotions and all that greatness battling all those past problems and, yes, even a new controversy as well.

Five days before he plays his final game in Super Bowl XLVII, Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens were confronted in New Orleans with a Sports Illustrated report that says Lewis was given deer antler extract, which contains a banned substance, to help his torn triceps heal more quickly.

Lewis denied the report and Ravens coach John Harbaugh said the linebacker never tested positive for any performance-enhancing drugs. But 13 years after he spent Super Bowl media day addressing his involvement in a double murder case the year before, Lewis once again finds himself on the wrong side in the court of public opinion.

Right or wrong, Lewis' remarkable story about coming back from what seemed to be a season-ending injury just in time to lead the Ravens in post-season tackles en route to the Super Bowl is now shrouded by suspicion.

While Lewis dodged the baggage from his past and present, teammates and members of Sunday's opposition -- the San Francisco 49ers -- spoke about the 37-year-old 13-time Pro Bowler with reverence. In league player circles, Lewis is more Godfather than professional peer.

"When I came into the league, I thought Ray Lewis was 6-foot-6, 275 pounds," Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "I did a commercial with him before I even got drafted. I was like, 'Oh, you're not that tall.' But it's just something about that guy."

Yes, he can be larger than life, whether it's crushing a running back, preaching to his teammates or crying and looking to the heavens during the national anthem, as CBS cameras captured before the AFC Championship Game at New England.

"Ray Lewis taught me how to be a pro," Ravens running back Ray Rice said. "Me being a pro has everything to do with how you act, not only on the field, but off the field as well. He set the example."

Respect and repulsion

Even NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, no softy on players, hugged Lewis after the linebacker's last game in Baltimore. Then he talked about hiring Lewis as a special advisor because, "he's a tremendous voice of reason."

And yet there's the flip side. There's always a flip side with Ray Lewis.

Shortly after the Patriots lost to the Ravens in the AFC Championship Game, Anna Welker, the wife of Patriots receiver Wes Welker, turned to Facebook to unleash the kind of anger that is commonplace among Lewis' haters. She wrote: "By the way, if anyone is bored, please go to Ray Lewis' Wikipedia page. 6 kids 4 wives. Acquitted for murder. Paid a family off. Yay. What a hall of fame player! A true role model!"

She apologized later. But it's hard to make something like that go away. Just as Lewis can't escape what happened in Atlanta in the early morning hours on Jan. 31, 2000.

Outside a nightclub during Super Bowl week, Richard Lollar and Jacinth Baker were stabbed to death. The murders still haven't been solved.

Lewis originally was charged with two counts of murder, but they were dropped in exchange for his testimony against two of his friends, Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting. Lewis pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice, a misdemeanor, while Oakley and Sweeting were acquitted. The white suit Lewis wore that night never turned up.

Lewis received one year of probation and a $250,000 fine by the NFL. Family members of the two men who were murdered sued Lewis for $13 million but settled for an undisclosed sum.

Coming full circle

Lewis was 24 years old the first time he sat at the Super Bowl and fielded questions about that night in Atlanta. Tuesday, he had to do it again.

"As hard as it is for them, as hard as it is ... for [what] you want me to speak about or you want to report about, I just don't believe, honestly, that this is not the appropriate time for that," Lewis said. "Because the sympathy I have for that family or what me and my family have endured because of all of that, nobody here is really qualified to ask those questions. I live with that every day. You maybe can take a break from it. I don't. I live with it every day of my life, and I'd rather not speak of that today."

Lewis will enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame five years after he retires on Sunday evening. But, right or wrong, the court of public opinion won't stop churning for one of the greatest players in NFL history.

The Hall of Fame is in Canton, Ohio. That's about 15 miles south of Akron, which is where Baker and Lollar were born, raised and are now buried.

  • SUPER BOWL XLVII

    San Francisco vs. Baltimore • 

    5:30 p.m. Sunday • Ch. 4 (100.3-FM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 33 FINAL
Dallas 10
Seattle 19 FINAL
San Francisco 3
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Chicago 12:00 PM
Boston
Golden State 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Dallas 6:30 PM
Toronto
Milwaukee 6:30 PM
Detroit
New Orleans 6:30 PM
Atlanta
LA Clippers 7:00 PM
Houston
New York 7:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Orlando 7:00 PM
Indiana
Sacramento 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Phoenix 8:00 PM
Denver
Memphis 9:00 PM
Portland
Minnesota 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
NY Rangers 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Chicago 3:00 PM
Anaheim
NY Islanders 4:00 PM
Washington
Winnipeg 6:00 PM
Boston
Montreal 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Detroit 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Carolina 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Vancouver 6:00 PM
Columbus
Ottawa 6:30 PM
Florida
Edmonton 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Minnesota 7:30 PM
Dallas
Tennessee 33 2nd Half
Kansas 40
Eastern Ill 24 2nd Half 17:05
NC Central 48
New Orleans 12:00 PM
Texas A&M
Radford 12:30 PM
NC A&T
Butler 1:00 PM
Georgetown
Prairie View 1:30 PM
Brown
Southern U 1:30 PM
Northern Ariz
Santa Clara 1:30 PM
Rhode Island
IUPU-Ft Wayne 2:00 PM
Dartmouth
FIU 2:30 PM
Wright State
Texas-El Paso 2:30 PM
Xavier
Penn State 3:00 PM
Bucknell
James Madison 3:00 PM
Ohio State
Yale 3:00 PM
Providence
Lamar 3:00 PM
Texas Southern
Miss Valley St 3:00 PM
TX A&M-CC
Missouri State 3:00 PM
Alaska-Anchorage
Minnesota 3:30 PM
Georgia
Oklahoma 3:30 PM
Wisconsin
Stephen F Austin 4:00 PM
Austin Peay
Norfolk State 4:00 PM
St Francis-NY
USC Upstate 5:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Middle Tennessee 5:00 PM
Cincinnati
Char Southern 5:00 PM
Florida State
Princeton 5:00 PM
San Diego
Drake 5:00 PM
Valparaiso
Rice 5:15 PM
Washington St
Rider 5:30 PM
Georgia Tech
High Point 6:00 PM
Clemson
Emerson 6:00 PM
Hartford
Savannah State 6:00 PM
Jacksonville St
Monmouth 6:00 PM
Maryland
South Alabama 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
Boise State 6:00 PM
NC State
Vanderbilt 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Gonzaga 6:00 PM
St Johns
Holy Cross 6:00 PM
Syracuse
Bradley 6:00 PM
TCU
Alabama State 6:00 PM
TX-Pan American
Delaware State 6:00 PM
Wake Forest
Tennessee St 6:30 PM
Saint Peters
North Carolina 7:00 PM
Florida
Memphis 7:00 PM
Indiana State
Hofstra 7:00 PM
Jackson State
Samford 7:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Cleveland State 7:00 PM
Marshall
UT Martin 7:00 PM
Nebraska
SE Louisiana 7:00 PM
Tulane
Creighton 7:30 PM
Ole Miss
Murray State 7:30 PM
Portland
North Texas 8:00 PM
Arkansas
UNC Greensboro 8:00 PM
Indiana
Michigan State 8:00 PM
Marquette
Western Mich 8:00 PM
San Jose St
Stetson 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
Texas-Arlington 8:05 PM
Montana State
Pacific 8:30 PM
Colorado State
Miss State 8:30 PM
Saint Louis
La Salle 8:30 PM
Virginia
North Dakota 9:00 PM
Utah
UCLA 9:30 PM
UAB
Baylor 9:30 PM
Illinois
Long Beach State 10:30 PM
Washington
Mercer 10:59 PM
UC Santa Barbara
LSU 23 FINAL
Texas A&M 17
(6) TCU 48 FINAL
Texas 10
Northern Ill 10 3rd Qtr 11:47
Western Mich 21
Nebraska 0 2nd Qtr 7:52
Iowa 7
Western Ky 28 2nd Qtr 13:22
(19) Marshall 21
UCF 7 2nd Qtr 8:24
So Florida 0
Houston 7 2nd Qtr 11:16
SMU 0
Akron 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Michigan 46 2nd Half 18:30
Washington St 28
Green Bay 34 2nd Half
Georgia Tech 29
Eastern Kentucky 42 2nd Half
Western Carolina 30
NJIT 28 2nd Half
Florida Atlantic 31
Fordham 12:00 PM
Incarnate Word
Illinois State 12:00 PM
Miami-Florida
Eastern Michigan 12:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
George Washington 12:00 PM
NC State
Furman 0 1st Half 20:00
Florida State 0
Ohio State 12:15 PM
Wichita State
Western Ky 1:00 PM
Tulane
La Salle 1:00 PM
Long Island
Binghamton 1:00 PM
St Johns
UNC-Asheville 1:00 PM
NC Central
North Florida 1:00 PM
UNC-Wilmington
Akron 1:00 PM
Belmont
Miss Valley St 1:00 PM
UMKC
Liberty 1:00 PM
Penn State
Colgate 1:00 PM
(21) Rutgers
Mercer 1:00 PM
Saint Louis
Northeastern 1:30 PM
No Dakota State
(10) Maryland 1:30 PM
James Madison
Villanova 1:30 PM
Arizona State
Tulsa 2:00 PM
Buffalo
Boston College 2:00 PM
Brown
Wyoming 2:00 PM
Iowa State
Weber State 2:00 PM
New Mexico St
Texas Tech 2:15 PM
Purdue
Washington 2:30 PM
Hartford
Fla Gulf Coast 2:30 PM
Clemson
Drake 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
UNC Greensboro 2:30 PM
Navy
(15) Nebraska 3:00 PM
UCLA
Northern Iowa 3:00 PM
Hofstra
Austin Peay 3:00 PM
Southern Miss
(17) Iowa 3:00 PM
Arkansas
Cal-Irvine 3:00 PM
Bowling Green
Samford 3:00 PM
Georgia State
Siena 3:30 PM
Denver
Abilene Christian 3:30 PM
George Mason
Towson 3:30 PM
Rhode Island
Howard 4:00 PM
St Marys-CA
Houston 4:00 PM
Idaho State
IUPUI 4:30 PM
Texas Southern
East Carolina 4:45 PM
Wisconsin
USC 5:00 PM
Sam Houston St
Minnesota 5:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kent State 5:00 PM
TX A&M-CC
Montana 5:00 PM
Princeton
(9) Kentucky 5:00 PM
Oklahoma
Arizona 5:00 PM
FIU
Northern Ky 5:00 PM
Grand Canyon
Stetson 5:00 PM
Marist
American Univ 5:30 PM
Gonzaga
UAB 5:30 PM
Loyola Marymount
Oral Roberts 5:30 PM
NC A&T
Stony Brook 5:30 PM
(8) Duke
TCU 6:00 PM
Colorado State
(5) Stanford 6:00 PM
(11) North Carolina
Monmouth 6:00 PM
Wagner
Portland 6:00 PM
Nevada
Stephen F Austin 6:00 PM
UC-Riverside
Alcorn State 6:00 PM
Rice
Lafayette 6:00 PM
(12) Louisville
Florida 6:00 PM
Georgetown
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
Oakland
SE Missouri St 6:05 PM
Southern Ill
Florida A&M 7:00 PM
SMU
Northern Colorado 7:00 PM
Nebraska Omaha
Montana State 7:00 PM
CS-Northridge
(22) Syracuse 7:00 PM
(1) South Carolina
Dartmouth 7:00 PM
Cal Poly
Utah State 7:00 PM
(13) Baylor
Toledo 7:00 PM
Virginia
Christian Brothers 7:05 PM
Arkansas State
South Florida 7:15 PM
Illinois
Coll of Charleston 7:30 PM
(3) Connecticut
Wake Forest 7:30 PM
Charlotte
San Jose St 7:30 PM
(14) California
Central Michigan 8:00 PM
Oregon
Fresno State 8:00 PM
San Diego
Boston U 8:00 PM
New Mexico
Missouri State 8:30 PM
Colorado
Ole Miss 8:30 PM
Utah
Prairie View 8:30 PM
Hawaii
Army 9:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Cincinnati 9:30 PM
Creighton

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Gophers and Vikings do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close