Eliot J. Schechter
Have you heard? Ray Lewis is retiring this year. The national media is about to beat you over the head with the subject.
I will say upfront that I have a lot of respect for Ray Lewis the player. He is, without a doubt, one of the best players to play the game - and easily one of the best ILBs to ever play. The production he's had for as long as he has had it is admirable. He's a very easy player to respect - for a lot of good reasons too. Frankly, I wish he weren't retiring this year. He is still playing good Football, and he is a joy to watch.
All that said, I am so tired of Ray Lewis himself. The shtick is so old. For a long time, it was tolerable. His actions after the AFC Championship game, though, sort of put me over the edge. Lying prostrate after the game while being hemmed in by photographers? I mean, that's what we did as high schoolers after a game. And then all the incoherent babbling? The random ranting and raving? Not a fan. Let's contrast this with Frank Gore, who - let's be honest - isn't the best public speaker. After the game, the joy and humility he has resonates because of his classy demeanor. The overly emotional celebrations are fine on the sidelines. But after the game, they just ring hollow.
At the end of the day, though, Football is an emotional game and Ray Lewis an emotional player. I think I could look past this as Ray just being Ray if the media wasn't blowing the Ray Lewis storyline out of proportion. The man already has a ring. Who doesn't? Frank Gore. Randy Moss. Justin Smith. What three men have been the definitions of hardworking class acts this season? Frank Gore. Randy Moss. Justin Smith. All three vets. All three ring-less. All three at the top of their game and at the top of their position throughout their careers. Randy Moss is probably the only one of those three who can rival Ray Lewis in terms of talent and impact on the game, but where are his articles? He is delegated to "secondary storylines" of the Super Bowl articles. It's very likely that this is his last year. I bet if he gets a ring, he will retire.
At the end of the day, though, Moss hasn't been in everybody's faces. He has accepted his part-time role with grace, and he has been an excellent tutor to Michael Crabtree with humility. Are his on-achievements less than Lewis' this post-season? Yeah, even though he has turned in some huge plays for the team. But I'm tired of the media's fascination with Mr. Lewis. It makes it hard for me to root for him to go out with dignity as a player. And at the end of the day, I think that does a disservice to the game. I hope that this story plays itself out over the next couple of weeks. And likely, it will. And hey! Then this article can seem bitter and unnecessary!
Until then, though, National Media. You're on notice.
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