Ray Lewis: The Premiere Snake Oil Salesman in American Sports


One of the most intriguing questions of the NFL off-season is whether there will be further investigation into the allegations that Ray Lewis sucked Bambi’s antlers. In American sports you can do just about anything–be involved in a double murder, father six illegitimate children–just so long as you don’t used PEDs.

So far, Lewis, the premiere snake oil salesman in American sports, has, for the last ten or so years, been the Teflon linebacker. The pre and post-Super Bowl bullshit (deer shit?) in which Lewis was referred to as “the spiritual leader of the Ravens” is mercifully almost over, but let’s not forget it all.

In the Jan. 14 issue of Sports Illustrated, S.L. Price wrote, “On the January morning after the 2000 Super Bowl [Lewis was arrested] in the killing of two men outside of an Atlanta club. The murder charges dissolved quickly, and Lewis has always maintained that he acted only as would be peace maker that night. But he pleaded guilty in one count of misdemeanor obstruction of justice, was sentenced to a year’s probation, and paid a $250,000 fine to the NFL.”

How neat and clean it all sounds wrapped up in those words. In fact, what’s left out of that account is several witnesses overhearing Lewis tell everyone present to keep their mouths shut and that he was not going to have his NFL career ruined. Of course the charges were dropped; the witnesses all recanted their testimony. Over the years Lewis has said things like “I’m telling you, no day leaves this earth without me asking God to ease the pain of anybody who was affected by that whole ordeal,” but God, apparently, has never had the moral sense to tell Lewis–and I’m betting that this is because most of Ray’s conversations with the Almighty are one-way affairs–that the best way to ease the pain of the murder victims’ families would be to come clean about what happened.

Perhaps God advised him that simply paying off $2 million o the families to settle civil suits released him from any other obligations. Or perhaps Ray confused the voice of God with the voice of his lawyer.

If God is listening now, please free us from future pap like this Feb. 4 post from Jeffri Chadiha on “Lewis’s most important contributions throughout this entire postseason had nothing to do with his ability. It had more to do with the very things hat truly made him great: his heart, his passion, his resiliency. Lewis made his teammates believe in all those qualities during a rocky season.”

In other words, even through a nothing season and a Super Bowl in which he was practically vacant, Lewis’s heart and passion was the source of all the Ravens’ greatness. I wonder if the naiveté of sportswriters will survive the revelation that perhaps, in addition to his great heart and passion, there was some artificial substance which also “made him great?”

Stephen Colbert, at least, got it right Monday night when he quipped, Ray Lewis “now has as many Super Bowl rings as murder indictments.” It’s a shame that our sports press can’t see this clearly.


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