Smith Says

The NFL season has come and gone. On Sunday evening, we saw a terrific game with a horrible ending, but at the end of the day, the Baltimore Ravens are your 2012-2013 NFL champions. In the weeks leading up to the big game, it seemed like we only heard one name talked about on all the sports networks: Ray Lewis. Well, now Lewis has gone out with a bang (so he says), and I say good riddance. Ray Lewis embodies the worst things about professional sports.

In early January, Lewis announced that he would retire at the end of this season. The linebacker has now won two Super Bowls, is a 13-time Pro-Bowler, two-time Defensive Player of the Year and the only player in NFL history to have 40 sacks and 30 interceptions. He is arguably one of the greatest defensive players to ever step foot on a football field. Those numbers would normally deserve to be celebrated, but Lewis’ off-the-field antics are what make him intolerable.

It all goes back to the night after the 2000 Super Bowl, when Lewis and two friends were part of a fight that resulted in the death of two people. They were stabbed to death outside of an Atlanta nightclub, and their blood was later found in Lewis’ limo. Also, the white suit Lewis was wearing that night was never found. Lewis was originally charged with murder, but he instead took a plea agreement to be charged only with obstruction of justice as long as he testified against his two friends, which he did. Now, 13 years later, he is being praised for his amazing career and holding up the Lombardi trophy while his two friends are sitting in jail.

Professional sports are a great thing. They bring people together and let people forget about their lives for a while as they enjoy watching their favorite teams and players. There have been too many cases, however, of athletes in serious legal trouble who come away with less severe sentences because of their celebrity status. Pro sports leagues will suspend players for entire seasons for taking steroids, they will ban all time great players, like Pete Rose, for gambling on the games, but they will let players who have killed people continue to play. Ray Lewis is just one example. Another example is Donte Stallworth, a wide receiver still playing in the NFL who killed a man while driving his car drunk in 2009. Stallworth served 24 days in jail and was suspended for a year.
Ray Lewis has worked feverishly over the last 13 years to rebuild his image. He has become very spiritual and has thanked God in every single interview I have seen in the last few weeks. Frankly, I’m tired of his act. Ray Lewis is not a role model; rather, he is everything that is wrong with pro sports. We look up to bad human beings because they can make a tackle or hit a home run. Young sports fans are now looking up to murderers, rapists and wife beaters. A line has to be drawn somewhere. With Ray Lewis retiring, the NFL just became a better league.
–Alex Smith