Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Thoughts on Ray Lewis and Why God Probably Won't Help You Pass a Drug Test

I’ve wanted to write a post on Ray Lewis since the win over the Broncos. Partly out of spite since watching Peyton Manning lose was a little devastating for me, but mostly because I find his misuse of scripture so infuriating. Claiming “No weapon formed against me shall prosper” as God’s promise to make your blitzes against Denver’s O-line more effective takes disrespect to another level.

But I admit, I set my sensibilities aside Sunday. I cheered for the Ravens because I like the elder Harbaugh, I think Flacco and Rice are criminally underrated, and I can’t stand the egotistical attitude of the 49ers (“Kapernicking”, Jim Harbaugh’s tantrums, everything about Michael Crabtree, etc.). I chose to forget about Lewis and enjoy the game in blissful ignorance.

And I did enjoy it. It was an amazing game, and I had as much fun as I’ve had in weeks with friends I too often fail to spend time with. It was everything you could want from a sporting event, which is both its beauty and downfall. We want so badly to see athletes do something amazing and transcendent that we’ll set aside our personal and moral beefs long enough to get what we want. My brother-in-law jokes he has to check his brain at the door before watching college football because of the rampant corruption and blatant BS going on in recruiting and in the NCAA, and I know I did the same thing on Sunday evening. It’s incredibly easy to do, but incredibly difficult to defend.

But after reading Bill Simmons’s article on PEDs, defending my blind eye just got a lot harder.

The article goes into the utter absurdity of Lewis coming back from a torn tricep in just two months when it typically takes at least six months to recover. The fact that he did it at 37, and had two of his best games in frigid temperatures (Denver and New England) make it even more inconceivable, giving validity to the claims he used PEDs (deer antler spray) to speed up his recovery. He goes on to say how frustrating to watch the sports media skate around this possibility (himself included) because of the damning ramifications of even remotely hinting at a player’s PED use without solid proof (i.e. a friggin’ syringe or something).

It was a bold and passionate article, and it made me remember why I can’t stand Ray Lewis.

Sports fans, like anyone else, want something incredible. Something unbelievable. It’s what made Lewis’s story so amazing at first and seem so fake now. It’s like Lance Armstrong; overcoming incredible adversity to become a champion, only to be outed as a fraud. Lewis, however, brought God into his deception, manipulating the faiths and beliefs of his audience. As my friend Matt put it, “it demonstrates at best an incredibly immature faith and at worst an understanding that playing the God card is a pretty good way to end any particular line of questioning.”

If guilty of taking PEDs, Ray Lewis using God as his source of superhuman strength to conceal his drug use is along the lines of fake pastors who claim healing powers while preying on those desperate to believe in something. It’s calculating. It’s scheming. It’s despicable.

Simmons concluded his article by saying, if given the choice, he’d rather see Lewis pee in a cup than watch Beyonce at halftime. While I understand the sentiment, maybe it’s time to look elsewhere for our sports heros. I’m starting with this guy.

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