Ray Lewis, the most feared middle linebacker to patrol a football field since Mike Singletary hung up his spikes, will do the same after Sunday’s Super Bowl and, like ALL Bengals fans, I say good riddance and why couldn’t you have left sooner? As my girlfriend can attest, I hesitate to use the word hate. I think our society has overused extreme words to the point that they have lost all their meaning, and I am guilty of this as well. Awesome is certainly in my top ten of most overused words. With all that said, however, I hate Ray Lewis.
No, really, I do. Ray, if you somehow find this article, I hate you and I am glad to see you go. In fact, there are two positives that Bengals fans can take from seeing a division rival and the team that beat us in our only two Super Bowls face each other. The first is that, of course, one will lose. So we have that going for us. The second is that it will spell the end of Ray Lewis’ career. If that isn’t enough to make offensive players league wide dance the Twinkletoe a la Fred Flintstone, I don’t know what is.
But, as the title of this article attests, you have to give the guy some respect. Not as a person, certainly not that. No one invites the drama and the notorious miss-attention (that’s not a word but I am going to coin it for this article) the way Ray Lewis does while retaining respect for one’s person. I have never met Mr. Lewis and I do not personally know anyone who has, but everything I have observed throughout his football career makes me pretty sure in denouncing him as a less than scrupulous individual. Mr. Rogers wouldn’t even want Ray Lewis to be his neighbor. So that’s not where the respect comes from.
No, my begrudging respect for Ray Lewis comes from the way he plays, or come Monday, played the game. Ray Lewis NEVER took a play off. Through injury and personal distraction, through cold and snow and blinding rain, Ray Lewis played as if that receiver, that quarterback, that running back personally held his paycheck and his family was going to go hungry if he didn’t make that one last tackle. Ray Lewis has (had) the blind ambitions of a first year player his entire career. And it showed.
Nobody competed like Ray Lewis did. Sure, it is easy to hate the guy, I think I have made that clear, but, if you are perfectly honest with yourself, doesn’t some of that hate come from fear? As a Bengals fan, didn’t you breath easier for a few weeks after Ray got hurt? Teams changed their entire attack based on whether or not Ray was suiting up. They say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. Personally, when it comes to a football player, I think it’s fear. And teams certainly feared Ray Lewis.
Not counting the playoffs and preseason, Ray Lewis will finish with an astounding 972 tackles in only 228 games. If it’s true what they say and each tackle feels like a car crash, Ray Lewis has sustained over 1,000 car crashes in his life, counting post season and preseason. Not even Evil Knievel can say that. For that ungodly level of toughness, I say, reluctantly, I salute you Ray Lewis. Now get out of here and stop giving the Bengals nightmares.
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