Few, if any, have played the game with more intensity and violence or demonstrated more loyalty to an organization than Ray Lewis.
However, it’s those two characteristics: hard-hitting and loyalty, that Lewis believes are in short supply in today’s NFL.
And it’s getting so bad he can’t even watch.
Lewis recently discussed his views of the game with Fox News, in which he told the network that the number of penalties in the first half of the Super Bowl made him so upset that he had to turn the game off.
“I can’t watch it,” Lewis told Fox News. “I’ve seen this before; I don’t want to watch this.”
It’s a league that makes it hard to watch from a defensive player. The art of why the game started, you know, tackling, you know, the big hit, the change in the course of a game, changing the way players from the offensive side think about the defensive side when you got to attack Dick Butkus or Mike Singletary…the essence of the game is leaving.
Lewis, who played all 17 years of his career in Baltimore, sees gambling as the primary motivator of fan interest and sees a lack of loyalty from both fans and players.
“The only thing to me … that’s saving the game or making the game, you know, the ratings, so high is fantasy, right? The gambling. Like there’s no loyalty in sports. The game used to be about loyalty. If you’re a Ravens fan, you’re a Ravens fan.”
Lewis continued, “When you think about Baltimore when you think about the city, you think about one person. That’s the legacy. I don’t think they [players] even think that far. Sometimes I think they get mad at management, and they get mad at owners and they just want to do it their way. And it’s like, well, I want out and I get it. I get it. And I could have said that you know, we went three, four years, you know, without having a winning season. But, I wouldn’t leave my city because I wanted to walk on the other side of that when the game was over. But, you know, maybe I’m a unicorn, one of the last ones.”
Of course, it’s easier for a player and an organization to show loyalty when the player involved is the greatest linebacker in NFL history. No organization in their right mind would have let Lewis go. However, his broader point stands: Unless you’re one of the greats (and even then it can get tricky, as in the case of Tom Brady) loyalty is typically a term that does not apply.