!WARNING! THIS IS A BIT OF A RANT.
This is getting so annoying. So if you live in Baltimore or have an affinity for listening to radio shows online, you might know about the new sports station in Baltimore, 105.7 The Fan. So it’s not that new, created in November, but still has a cool fresh feeling of something new. I listen to a show called Playmakers, with Ken Weinman and Jeremy Conn, two great, hilarious hosts. I love their show and I look forward to listening to them every single night, but I HATE the callers. Now don’t get me wrong, some of them I think are smart and I like to listen to, but most of them call in about the same thing every night.
In 2 days, we will know Lewis’ intentions if he begins to negotiate with Dallas. I, along with many Ravens fans I’ve had contact with, am content with waiting until Friday and seeing what happened. The callers on this radio show say one of these things about him:
- He is one of the league’s best linebackers, and we need him to carry our defense.
- He is disloyal and he doesn’t deserve to wear the Ravens’ uniform.
- We don’t need him, because we have good depth behind him and the Ravens’ defense has always been immune to shifting parts.
- It’s not his talent we need, but his leadership and guidance.
You can tell that the hosts get so sick of hearing the same thing over and over from uneducated Ravens fans who can’t even name his backups that they want to replace Lewis with. Some of these people get so angry when they call in that he’s leaving, but don’t know anything about why he’s leaving or what he would take away from the team. One reason I like Weinman and Conn is because they challenge the caller and make sure they know their stuff, and many do, but the people that don’t need to just see what happens. You can’t tell right now whether these Dallas reports are true, because Ray is keeping his mouth shut, which is the smart thing to do.
Now, through all of this, I haven’t stated my opinion about Lewis. I feel that if he stays, we get to keep a great player who leads his team better than anyone in the league. If he goes, we start advancing towards a new chapter in the Ravens’ history book. We start to build around Flacco, and the offense, and get back to that defense we have to keep cycling towards: the young one.
I don’t see what other people see when they say Lewis leaving will tear apart the team both leadership and talent-wise. When Jamal Lewis was out for service time and when he went to Cleveland, the offense and team didn’t implode. When Brian Billick left, the team didn’t implode. The great thing about this team throughout their history, in almost every case, is that whenever someone with a huge role leaves, other people step up. Even in the last few years, even this past season, players have continued to step up when holes sprung up. When Adailus Thomas left, Jarret Johnson stepped in incredibly. When Dawan Landry was injured, Jim Leohnard became a fan favorite. When B.J. Sams, one of the most dangerous kick returners in the NFL at the time, criminalized himself out of Baltimore, Yamon Figurs provided big plays in the return game. When Steve McNair retired, a rookie who was expected to be the 3rd-stringer on an average team led them to an 11-5 record and an AFC Championship game.
Even with people out of the spotlight, this franchise has continued to heal itself with guys that were thought to be nothing special. Pro-Bowl caliber centers Casey Rabach and Mike Flynn both signed with other teams, and Jason Brown, a 4th-round draft pick became one of the best centers in the NFL. Special teamer Adailus Thomas became a linebacker, and Gary Stills played just as well as he ever did. Replacing him was Brendan Ayenbadejo, who led the NFL in special team tackles.
Maybe it’s the system the team has that makes them so successful when top-flight guys leave, or maybe Ozzie Newsome is a supergenuis in the draft. His director of player personnel left, but Eric DeCosta, the greatest draft scout in the last decade of the NFL, in my opinion as a biased Ravens fan took over. Just another example of the same.
I’ve seen Ray Lewis as a god in my time as a Ravens fan, but all good things must come to an end. Maybe he’ll rub it in my face when he resigns with the Ravens on Friday night, but if he leaves, I won’t be mad at him as a fan of this team. Sure, I’ll lose some respect for a guy that had a city worship him since he was 22, but he’s given me enough as a fan. A decade of good teams, a Super Bowl Championship and MVP award, and enough defeats of the Steelers to keep me happy.
This was by far the longest thing I’ve posted since I started on this blog, but if the greatest Ravens player in the history of the franchise is leaving this week, I think he deserves at least 1000 words. So maybe you, the person reading my thoughts, totally disagree, and think that I’m being too nice to a money-driven greed monster, but you know a different Ray Lewis than me. You could see the man charged with murder with an attitude and disrespect for the media, but I see the leader who always has a smile and gave a whole city hope.
So if you’re for some crazy reason reading this Ray, I hear Dallas is nice, but does Dallas have an ESPN Zone? Nope.
Does Dallas have an awesome harbor? Nope.
Does Dallas have a QB with an intimidating unibrow and the support of a city. Ha, nope.
Does Dallas care about your restaurant chain? Nope. But Baltimore does.
Baltimore cares. And Baltimore wants you back.
Holy crap, I wrote a sh*tload.