MVP not as valuable as some might say
Sunday night, between watching Bob Dole hawk cola products and seeing an unfortunate spill of a BudLight ruin an otherwise romantic night, I was able to take in the Ravens' demolition of the Giants in Super Bowl XXXV. In a game that was about as enthralling as the Fiesta Bowl, I only kept watching to see who would be named the game's MVP.
Much to my dismay, the honor went to Ray Lewis, Baltimore's star middle linebacker and anchor of the Ravens' killer defense. Greg Gumbel, CBS' lead play-by-play man, only added to my exasperation when he took a timeout from promoting Survivor II to call Lewis a great individual following a post-game interview.
Now, I'm one of those people who wince at the overuse of the word great. I like to reserve such superlatives for Jesus Christ, Joe Montana, and maybe Britney Spears' performance at the American Music Awards, but calling Lewis great, that's like saying Lucifer was a good angel, or that Scott Norwood was a good placekicker.
If Ray Lewis is a great individual then Saddam Hussein ought to be canonized.
This is the same Ray Lewis who, just a year ago while attending the Super Bowl as a spectator, was involved in a fight which ended in the death of two men. While no one will ever know if Lewis actually inflicted the fatal wounds or not, it is certain that he fled the scene with his friends, both suspects.
It is also quite true that Lewis refused to cooperate with a police investigation, and during his double murder trial avoided a stiff jail sentence by copping a plea with a prosecution no more competent than the one that tried to squeeze The Juice.
One might surmise that Lewis would be humbled by this experience, that he would realize how lucky he was to be on the field for this Super Bowl instead of behind bars. But not this Ray Lewis. This Ray Lewis views the whole incident as a nuisance, and had even the gall to complain to a popular magazine that last year's trial forced him to miss the Pro Bowl.
You might think that Lewis would have apologized to the victims' families until he was blue in the face. Any great man would have, right? Not Ray Lewis.
He's never spoken with the families of either of the victims. Ray Lewis doesn't even consider them victims. He claims he was victimized, and "wrongly imprisoned." Obviously Lewis failed to schedule the classes at his alma mater, the University of Miami, that covered the accessory to murder section of the law.
OK, so maybe he's no humanitarian but it would probably be a safe bet to say that Lewis, given where he was a year ago, would shun the spotlight and let his play on the field speak for itself, right?
Nope, not Ray Lewis, owner of perhaps the planet's largest ego, who, while being introduced to the world before the game, launched into a foolish dance routine that resembled Ricky Martin in spasm.
Adding to Ray Lewis' greatness are the four illegitimate children he has sired. But don't worry, Ray is a "great" father. In a recent article that appeared in ESPN The Magazine, Lewis proclaimed, "Friday night is family night."
That's one night out of seven that the great Ray spends with his children. That's barely enough time to teach them to breakdance.
In the end, things worked out for the incomparable Ray Lewis. He didn't lose the game, and it doesn'?1
t bother him that two families lost loved ones. But what Ray Lewis did lose is my respect.
One night a week with the kids? Who knows what goes on the other six nights? Well, the families of two men do.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Observer.
All Sports Stories for Wednesday, January 31, 2001