I would call myself a supporter of Ray Lewis. Not a fan – sports fandom thankfully allows for shades of gray – but a supporter. But as Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens defeated the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium to continue their unlikely trip to Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday, I didn’t know how to feel supporting Ray Lewis’ very public emotional roller coaster.
I wasn’t the only one. The sentiment among the friends I watched the game with was universal: “I like Ray Lewis, but this is just getting to be ridiculous.”
Fans understand that football is a devestating physical game with lifelong health ramifications, which allows football players a certain emotional leeway that other sports aren’t often granted. Football players are the modern-day courageous warriors that America has fallen head-over-heels for and absolutely nobody is questioning their toughness.
But enough is enough, Ray. You’ve already won a Super Bowl; act like you’ve been there before.
I’m perfectly fine with Ray Lewis and other players showing emotion and crying. Certainly, the media can also be blamed for constantly surrounding Lewis with cameras and playing sound bites and video clips until they’re permanently embedded in our brains.
But do fans want to remember this Baltimore Ravens’ run because of Lewis’ emotional antics?
For every private postgame meeting with Peyton Manning, it seems Ray Lewis has 10 very public emotional meltdowns that take away from everything else the Ravens and Lewis himself has accomplished this postseason.
Are people talking about Lewis bravely returning from a potential season-ending triceps injury? Are they talking about Ray’s astounding 44 tackles in three physical AFC playoff games? No, they’re talking about him crying during the National Anthem and drawing tons of attention to himself through emotional actions for the third consecutive week.
Ray Lewis had every right to be emotional for his final home game and after defeating the two quarterbacks that dominated the last decade of AFC football, but he could have done so in the private manner that he met with Peyton Manning and his wife following the Ravens’ win in Denver.
But as Ray Lewis ran to the middle of Gillette Stadium, crying and pounding the ground, I couldn’t help but wonder how genuine his emotion was after going through similar antics the last three weeks.
Maybe Ray Lewis really IS that emotional, or maybe he’s using these outburts to gain media attention and to keep the focus off of his teammates, which is entirely feasible.
But one thing is certain: I don’t know if I can take another two weeks of the Ray Lewis Retirement Party if it’s going to continue to be like this.