Niagara Gazette

Local News

February 2, 2013

PARRINO: Deciphering the Ray Lewis Legacy

Niagara Gazette —

When Ray Lewis retires, which person will be remembered?

The man that was charged with murder in 2000, or the man that's become the face of America's game? 

I almost forgot about that first person before the Baltimore Ravens recent run to the Super Bowl. It's funny how that can happen, isn't it? I was too busy marveling at the person, or should I say player, that he had become.

I think recent stories show all of us how easy it is to let what we see on the field mask the realities off it.

Lance Armstrong turned out to be a liar and a cheater after the majority of the public defended him for the better part of a decade, even though most of the evidence was right there in front of us. I mean, seven Tour de France championships, in a row, after overcoming testicular cancer — that's about as realistic as Manti Te'o not knowing that he was dating a make believe girlfriend for over two years.

Most sports fans — and I'm not talking about those who watch a few games or flip on the tube when the Super Bowl is on — don't want to mix sports with real life. That's why we overlook so much. That's why we're so eager to give second chances.

A big part of America gave Lewis — who was acquitted of the murder charge and only found guilty of obstruction of justice — a second chance and, to his credit, he's done the most with it. He reinvented himself and will now retire as the benchmark of work ethic, a guy thousands of young players will try and model their game after.

If he killed those young men at that nightclub outside of Atlanta he should be behind bars — there is no way around it. Whether or not he did, his involvement should forever be a cross he has to bear.

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