When it comes to Ray Lewis and the celebration/glorification of his illustrious, 17-season NFL career, the cliché "what's done is done" applies.
Pictured: Ray Lewis has earned our admiration and respect.
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As his career comes to a close, perhaps this weekend when the Ravens take on Peyton Manning and the Broncos, football fans should not be ashamed of loving Ray Lewis. He's earned our admiration and respect.
That is not written to exonerate Lewis in the 2000 double-murder trial that nearly cost him his freedom, nor is it written to minimize the seriousness of the tragedy. It's written to convey none of us is Perry Mason, none of us know what happened before, during or after Lewis, his friends and the victims stepped inside the limousine on that night. We can speculate. We can piece together clues. We can read into the fact Lewis reached financial settlements with the families of the deceased. We can express and feel deep sympathy for the deceased and their families.
But we cannot know. What's done is done. Our criminal justice system reached a plea agreement with Lewis to testify against the men the courts believed were responsible for the killings, and the courts charged Lewis with obstruction of justice. There were no convictions at the trial.
Well, and seven other QBs' place, too. See who's in the playoffs, and when they play.
I'm not granting Lewis forgiveness based on legal technicalities. I'm giving it to him based on common sense, life experience, an understanding of our criminal justice system and, most important, based on the way Lewis has conducted himself since the trial.
Many of you cannot see yourselves making the decisions Lewis did on that fateful night. Why was he out partying with two "thugs"? One of Lewis' friends charged with murder was also friends with Derrick Thomas, the Chiefs Hall of Fame linebacker. The friend, Joseph Sweeting, came to Kansas City every year to kick it at Derrick's summer golf weekend. He was a little dude everyone called "Big Oomph." I partied with him, and I'm a non-violent square.
Unlike many of my sportswriting peers who can't imagine themselves being in the same position as Ray Lewis, I can. When I was in college, a teammate and I stepped out of a car and some townies stopped their car and dropped several racial slurs on us, including the N-word. We were big, swollen, 21-year-old football players. We shouted for the townies to get out of their cars and fight. My teammate, unbeknownst to me, popped the trunk of his car and pulled out a semi-automatic weapon.
SOURCE: Jason Whitlock