How NFL Fans Swallow Jagged Little Pill Ray Lewis

I’m high but I’m grounded
I’m sane but I’m overwhelmed
I’m lost but I’m hopeful, baby
And what it all comes down to
Is that everything’s gonna be fine fine fine
Cause I’ve got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is giving a high five
Alanis Morissette, Hand in my Pocket

I thought this song was by Sheryl Crow, but she’s been assigned to the Lance Armstrong scandal in the 1st round of the 90s Female Singers draft, so I can’t also apply her to Ray Lewis.

Instead, Alanis Morissette, the angsty Canadian patron saint of contradiction, fits better with the scary, confounding man in purple. She who released a song called “Ironic” that was anything but, entering terr(or)itories of philosophical meta-irony that I don’t dare to venture into.

The yelling, dancing, preaching, player thumping, Bible thumping, intimidating Ray Lewis is a man of both conviction and contradiction. A purple people eater who gobbles up ballcarriers, the captain has mobilized his Baltimore Ravens in an inspired march to the Super Bowl by announcing his impending retirement after the championship game. This is Lewis’ second appearance in the Super Bowl, and he has a knack for making news in relation to the big game; some abhorrent (2000 murder charges), some laudable (2001 game MVP), and some involving deer that I have absolutely no idea how to classify.

In case you haven’t heard, allegations broke this week that Ray Lewis used deer antler spray, which contains a banned substance, to rehab from his triceps injury. I don’t think there’s anyone else in the league who I would believe this story more about than Ray Lewis. It conjures up an image of Lewis unleashing his primal instincts and destroying the deer who happened to run a slant route across the middle, then snapping off an antler and supping marrow, a witches brew of blood and juice trickling down his face as his body bulges and twitches, transforming back into the Hulk. So raw, so gritty, so…Ray Lewis.

This is one of those stories with all kinds of wacky twists and public fodder. The company Lewis allegedly ordered from is called Sports With Alternatives to Steroids (S.W.A.T.S.), which is exactly what I would call my steroid company. They offer cutting-edge, completely legitimate wares such as jugs of “negatively charged” water and hologram stickers worn on the body to ward off adverse frequencies. Aside from the antler spray, S.W.A.T.S. provided Lewis with personalized underwear soaked in menthol liquid and exposed to radio waves. Mitch Ross, the founder of S.W.A.T.S., is a former stripper and steroid dealer. Another client, South African golfer Vijay Singh, admitted to using the deer antler spray, also banned by the PGA Tour. The company was successfully sued in 2011 by ex-NFL linebacker David Vobora, who was awarded 5.4 million dollars after a S.W.A.T.S. product caused Vobora to fail a drug test.

Lewis called the PED allegations a “trick of the devil,” the eternal font of Super Bowl week disruption. We could begin to consider this argument, were it not for the fact that Ray Lewis has been working with this company since 2011, and phone records show him asking for and getting instructions on how to ingest the spray. This is a lot like ordering 15 Junior Bacon Cheeseburgers from Wendy’s every day since 2011, having Wendy Thomas teach you how to eat them, then saying it’s a “trick of the devil” that you look fat.

You live you learn, you love you learn
You cry you learn, you lose you learn
Alanis Morisette, You Learn

If the above is indeed true, Ray Lewis is a PhD level scholar, especially with the crying. Lewis has triggered waterworks seemingly every time he has been in front of a camera during the playoffs: After games on the field, after games in the press room, and even during the national anthem in the AFC Championship game. SNL satirized Lewis this week; when asked about the sketch, he said: “When I saw it, I laughed so hard. I was in tears actually last night laughing about it.” Ray Lewis was in tears from laughing about his excessive tears; isn’t that ironic, Alanis?

You oughta know that it’s not fair to remind Ray Lewis of his past demons, as Wes Welker’s wife did last week- or at least, that’s the rule in the press. The media refuses to discuss the fact that, frankly, there’s a pretty strong chance that Ray Lewis committed murder. Two men were murdered after a fight with Lewis’ crew; Lewis’ white suit vanished, one man’s blood was found in his limo, and Lewis was indicted for murder. Lewis reportedly cried when he was read his rights. He reached out of court monetary settlements of an undisclosed amount with the families of both victims. Here’s the cliffnotes on Wikipedia  Is it because it sullies the perfect Ray Lewis narrative? The press should be vultures with a ravenous appetite for veracity, instead of sealing the vault. It’s a complacent media that accepts bygones, but I suppose it’s easier to write a column full of light-minded idiosyncrasies and game notes than latching on to an inconvenient truth.

The press informs the fans; how do NFL fans regard Ray Lewis? He’s rough around the edges, but he’s entertaining, and he elevates the game on the field and as a spokesman. One Ravens beat writer said that he’s never seen Ray Lewis with any reading material besides his Bible and his playbook; Lewis certainly has a passion both personal and professional. Before games, he dances. During games, he hits. After games, he speaks. He’s good at all three.

Their acceptance of Lewis shows that fans want the most entertainment out of football that they can get, and that means they want the highest level of product. Lewis is dangerous, but religious. He’s a criminal, but he’s fun to watch. What it all comes down to is fans overlooking Lewis’ transgressions and embracing his play. He’s won them over in spite of themselves, and they’ve fallen head over feet for the grizzled veteran.

Should we be alarmed, or is everything going to be fine?