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

Los Angeles - LP: B. Wilson 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Grimm 8
Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 2
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 3 FINAL
Oakland - LP: D. Otero 0
Toronto 6 Bottom 9th Inning
NY Yankees 2
Arizona - LP: T. Cahill 1 FINAL
Colorado - WP: E. Butler 5
Boston 2 Top 1st Inning
Baltimore 0
Milwaukee 0 Top 1st Inning
Pittsburgh 0
Washington 0 Top 1st Inning
Miami 0
NY Mets 0 Top 1st Inning
Atlanta 0
Chicago WSox 0 Top 1st Inning
Tampa Bay 0
Cleveland 0 Delayed
Minnesota 0
Seattle 0 Top 1st Inning
Houston 0
Cincinnati - M. Leake 6:15 PM
St. Louis - M. Wacha
San Francisco - Y. Petit 7:40 PM
San Diego - A. Cashner
Texas - C. Lewis 8:05 PM
LA Angels - J. Weaver
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(13) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
Utah 26 Delayed 7:51
Michigan 10
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
North Carolina 34 4th Qtr 8:39
East Carolina 63
Virginia 33 4th Qtr 1:34
(21) BYU 41
Florida 21 4th Qtr 3:00
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 3rd Qtr 6:02
FIU 3
San Jose St 7 Delayed 11:38
Minnesota 17
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Indiana 24 4th Qtr 5:00
(18) Missouri 24
Texas State 14 2nd Qtr 3:05
Illinois 6
Georgia State 7 2nd Qtr 5:02
Washington 0
Appalachian St 0 1st Qtr 13:14
Southern Miss 7
Miss State 0 1st Qtr 13:33
(8) LSU 0
Northern Ill 0 1st Qtr 12:59
Arkansas 7
Middle Tennessee 0 1st Qtr 14:00
Memphis 0
Utah State 0 1st Qtr 11:53
Arkansas State 0
Miami-Ohio 0 1st Qtr 12:04
Cincinnati 0
Idaho 0 1st Qtr 11:58
Ohio U 0
Ball State 0 1st Qtr 13:20
Toledo 6
(14) So Carolina 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Vancouver FC 0 2nd Half 3:00
Portland 3
Houston 0 1st Half 44:55
Philadelphia 0
New England 6:30 PM
Columbus
San Jose 6:30 PM
Montreal
Seattle 6:30 PM
Red Bull New York
D.C. 7:30 PM
Chicago
FC Dallas 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 0 14:33
Hamilton 0
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary

ADVERTISEMENT

Advertisement
Golden Gavel by Star Tribune

Countdown to great deals

Bid Sept. 21-29

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

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

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

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

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close