It's not exactly daring to hate Ray Lewis. Facebook data show that most people are rooting for the 49ers to win the Super Bowl, and I'm sure "FUCK RAY LEWIS" has a lot to do with that. No one disputes that Lewis should be a Hall of Famer, and I guess we can all agree that he's a good leader. He sure shouts a lot. What is in dispute is whether he's an overrated, self-aggrandizing sack of shit who throws God in your face any time you accuse him of being anything less than a saint. So let's take a moment to break down Ray Lewis's loathsomeness piece by awful piece in a very special hater's guide. It's our little trick of the devil.
Ray Lewis is a backstabber, at the very least. One of the easiest ways to hate on Ray Lewis is to bring up the 2000 stabbings. I do this all the time. STABBY STABBY STAB. Of course, no Ray Lewis hater has clear evidence that the Ravens linebacker actually stabbed anyone that night in Atlanta, and the prosecution's case was generally held to be a mess. Lewis's sworn testimony from the murder trial of Joseph Sweeting and Reginald Oakley is a matter of public record. In it, Lewis says that he never saw anyone pull a knife that night, and he never saw anyone stab anyone. He essentially says a group of guys started shit with his crew, and when shit got out of control and a fight broke out, Lewis fled.
Lewis said, after the fight was over, defendant Sweeting told him, he'd thrown punches with a knife in his hand.
Of course, Lewis gave this testimony as part of a plea to a reduced charge, so any seasoned hater like me can easily spin this into a story about Ray Lewis being both a stabby stabber and a rat. You can also take his testimony as the truth, but the problem with that is ...
Ray Lewis loves selling his own victimhood. Here's a man who has been shown praying on the cover of Sports Illustrated TWICE now. He should just start his own magazine featuring a new prayer shot every month. Here's Ray Lewis praying on an airplane! Here's Ray Lewis praying at a cemetery! Here's Ray Lewis praying next to a bowl of onion dip! CAN'T YOU SEE THAT HE IS A MAN LOOKING TO GOD FOR ANSWERS?! He's been through the FIRE, dammit!
Lewis has been pushing this narrative on the American public since 2000, when he basically nailed himself to a cross for Dan Le Batard:
Those 15 days in jail after the Super Bowl were the worst, longest days of my life. I was bored, lonely, suffering, sad, frustrated, bitter, helpless ... and angry as all hell. It has been almost a year, and I'm still angry. At the politicians, because they played with my life, using my name just to make themselves more famous. And at the NFL, for hitting me with one of the biggest fines in sports history for a misdemeanor while the league's drug users, drunken drivers and wife beaters never get hit half as hard. I'd like to know when I get to stop paying for a crime I didn't commit.
I feel like what I'm most guilty of is being successful.
Six years later, he did the same thing in Sports Illustrated:
"God has done something in my life—and not just for me to see it," Lewis says softly. Then his eyes flash, and he starts shouting, pointing. "God has done something in my life for ev-ery hat-er, ev-ery enemy.... "
A noise—"whooooaaa!"—rises out of the rows at the Empowerment Temple in northwest Baltimore, like the roar of an ocean wave gathering itself to crest.
"... every person who said I wouldn't walk or ever play again!"
I think he means "walk" in the sense of an acquittal, but Ray's been martyring himself for so long that it's entirely possible he thinks of himself now as a mix of Rudy and Brian Piccolo. The worst part is that people in the media are still lapping up all this warm shit:
I asked the future Hall of Famer: What did he remember about that media day in Tampa a dozen years ago, and was he indeed having a lot more fun this time around?
Yes, that's a great question. Ray, are you having more FUN at this media day? Because it's way important to us that you smile and enjoy your time in the spotlight here. YOU DESERVE SOME POSITIVE ATTENTION FOR ONCE!
You can see how this grates on people. You don't have to believe Ray Lewis is guilty of stabbing two men to hate his guts and want him to fall down a well. All you have to do is see him take an unfortunate situation and use it to contrive his own phony redemption story. Your white-hot hatred is set to go!
Ray Lewis loves only a certain type of attention. Here's Lewis lecturing the media this week for daring to ask him about the Sweeting/Oakley case:
Nobody here is really qualified to ask those questions. [...] I just truly feel that this is God's time, and whatever his time is, you know, let it be his will.
You understand that, media? None of you know anything NOW LET ME USE GOD AS A HUMAN SHIELD PEW PEW PEW GOD CAN ABSORB YOUR TRUTH BULLETS.
Because I live with that every day. You maybe can take a break from it. I don't. I live with it every day of my life and I would rather not talk about it today.
Again with the victim complex. Poor Ray Lewis. Can't you see how it eats at him every single day? How dare you bring up such a painful subject? HE DIDN'T ASK FOR ALL THIS ATTENTION, YOU GUYS. Why don't you just all shut your faceholes and leave the camera on Ray while he dances ...
This is why people fucking loathe Ray Lewis. Ask him about that fateful night in Atlanta, and he'll tell you the media are out to get him. But put a camera near him on the field and he sucks that thing up like it's Earth's last bubble of oxygen. LOOK AT ME CRYING TO THE NATIONAL ANTHEM. ARE YOU NOT TOUCHED?
Ray Lewis is a cheap televangelist. People who flaunt their faith the loudest are very often the biggest phonies. This is why I'm convinced that Tim Tebow murdered six drifters in the spring of '03 and never told a soul about it. And this is why Ray Lewis comes across as nothing so much as a muscular Jim Bakker with an arm brace. He uses his faith to wrap himself in unearned virtue. Don't you people see that he's in the Super Bowl this year because it's GOD'S TIME? And didn't you know that Ray's magic God hands are the reason Joe Flacco completed that miracle pass to Jacoby Jones? Ray Lewis's success is proof that God loves all of you. And by "God," I mean Ray Lewis. And by "all of you," I mean Ray Lewis, too.
So why such a disconnect between how Ravens fans feel and the rest of the country? It all goes back to something that happened 13 years ago. Non-Ravens fans won't let it go… I call it jealousy.
A Ravens fan is the kind of fan who loves his team the more everyone else hates it. "It's us against the world!" says the 400-pound asshole in purple camos. I hate that kind of fan.
Ray Lewis wasn't that great. It's a whole lot easier making tackles when either Tony Siragusa, Sam Adams, or Haloti Ngata are tying up three linemen at a time, and every scorekeeper credits you with a tackle if your pinky finger happens to touch the pile, and you're hopped up on Bambi's antlers. Let's not suck Ray-Ray's dick too hard. There are other human beings on the Ravens defense, you know. That asshole isn't doing it all by himself. Oh, but I'm sure he lent them his God Powerups.
Seriously, the dancing. It's fucking embarassing.
So there you have it: the full case against Ray Lewis. Maybe you think he's a reformed man. Maybe you think he's a criminal. Maybe you think he's some kind of fascinating, complex antihero. All I know is that he's annoying in any form and I hope he loses by a thousand points on Sunday. And I hope there's no space left on the field for him to lead a goddamn one-man prayer ring.