Maybe there’s something about the name “Ray” when it comes to the NFL. Way before the Ray Rice domestic-assault incident, there was another Ray making headlines.
On Jan. 31, 2000, right after a Super Bowl XXXIV party in Atlanta, Baltimore Ravens star Ray Lewis was involved in a fight that resulted in the stabbing deaths of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar. Lewis and his two friends, Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting, were indicted on murder and aggravated assault charges. During the trial, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard alleged that a suit worn by Lewis was trashed because it was blood-soaked and was a crucial piece of evidence. Also, a knife was found at the scene, but it didn’t have any fingerprints or DNA, even though Lewis testified that his two friends had indeed purchased knives from Sports Authority, and Baker’s blood was found inside the limousine.
That obviously wasn’t enough to get a conviction. Two weeks into the trial, Lewis’ attorneys negotiated a plea deal, and the murder charges against Lewis were dismissed in exchange for testimony against Oakley and Sweeting, who were ultimately acquitted. Even though Lewis did admit to giving misleading statements to the police, he was sentenced only to 12 months’ probation. Lewis was also fined $250,000 by the NFL.
Some considered that a slap on the wrist, considering that two men lost their lives and Lewis seemingly tried to cover up his involvement.
Fast-forward to this weekend’s ESPN interview with Lewis about the NFL’s handling of Rice’s case. So you have a man who was involved in two killings, whom the NFL still allowed to play, speaking about a man involved in a domestic violence case, whom the NFL suspended indefinitely.
“This is a tragic situation; what Ray Rice did was inexcusable,” Lewis said Sunday morning on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown. “There’s no room in our world for what we’ve seen. If I was to close my eyes, one thing I remember vividly was my mom being beaten. The one thing I also remember is not one of the men who beat my mom was in the National Football League. This is not a football problem. This is a world problem. Every nine seconds a woman is being brutally beaten. It bothers me a little bit when we’re the focus of this attention,” Lewis stated.
“We all know Ray Rice did something horrific. You can’t get away with hitting a woman, but that didn’t start with Ray Rice. We have to find a way to stop violating women. That’s where it starts. As a child, my greatest motivation was to make sure as a man, not an NFL man, that a man never put his hands on my mom again,” he continued.
Talk about irony!
People on social media wondered why ESPN would have Lewis on to talk about NFL players in trouble with the law. And rightly so.
ESPN definitely put its foot in its mouth with that interview. Was there anyone available to speak who wasn’t involved in stabbing two people, and who basically got away with murder?