Somewhere along the line, we as a nation apparently chose to forgive/forget the fact that Ray Lewis was involved in a murder at a Super Bowl party in 2000. That Lewis and his friends got into a fight with another group, and two people in that other group were stabbed to death. That Lewis lied to cops the next morning, and hid or destroyed his bloodstained white suit. That Lewis pleaded down from murder charges in exchange for testifying against his friends, and later reached out-of-court monetary settlements with the families of the victims.

That's fine. This is America, and Lewis has paid his debt to society (one year of probation). We forgive a lot of things. We want Tiger Woods to be great again. Even after the "unpleasantness" in Colorado, Kobe Bryant is as loved (read: respected and feared) as ever. And Ray Lewis, his slate wiped clean by a Hall of Fame career, is moving on to a second act as an august member of the football fraternity, joining ESPN as an analyst on Monday Night Countdown.


Media folks love Lewis because he's friendly, open, and a fantastic quote. He'll be great on TV for the same reasons. But shouldn't we at least mention the other stuff? Bonnie Bernstein offers a preemptive defense for Lewis's past, which might not be necessary because ESPN and the NFL seem happy to ignore the incident, even when discussing his "legacy." Lewis doesn't need his new ESPN colleagues standing up for him, and he surely doesn't need it in the form of a supremely flawed parable.

Bernstein, on her Facebook page:

True story: One day (long... long ago) during my middle school years, I snuck into the forest with my friends. Some of my classmates were going through this experimental phase with cigarettes. I hung out, but never took a single puff. No desire. Never one to succumb to peer pressure.

My parents weren't around when I got home, so I quickly threw my clothes in the wash. I was worried they'd make assumptions if they smelled the smoke that had permeated my jeans and jacket.

When Mom got back, I told her I was just hangin out with my friends after school. In the unlikely event she inquired about anyone smoking, I would have lied. Wasn't throwing my friends under the bus.

Was I guilty of smoking because I washed my clothes?

Had I lied, did that mean I was lighting up, too?

I don't believe Ray Lewis was a complete saint the day of the double stabbing for which he was initially charged (and yes, I'm well aware murder is a lot worse than smoking, thank you). He ditched his bloody suit, which was never recovered, and was initially dishonest with investigators. That's clearly obstruction of justice, for which he plead guilty.


With Lewis' pending retirement, all these questions are understandably resurfacing. The conundrum among many of my journalistic brethren: determining how we, personally, feel about Ray Lewis. On one hand, he was unquestionably with the wrong crew at the wrong time that night in Atlanta; on the other, he's had an incredibly positive impact on so many on the field and off it through his tireless charitable endeavors. I don't give a crap about how good of a linebacker he is. That doesn't sway my judgement one iota.

So, as you ponder Ray Lewis' legacy, ask yourself...

Was I guilty of smoking because I washed my clothes?

Stop snitching, Monmouth County style. It's not the first time Bernstein has reached for an unfortunate analogy. A few years back, she likened high school basketball players going straight to the pros to Palestinian children wanting to become suicide bombers, which makes this Ray Lewis argument look like the Organon by comparison.


H/t Rich