Gambling, Thuggery, Spousal Abuse, Fan/Player Brawls, and Maybe Murder: Welcome to Pro Sports   Leave a comment

 January 6, 2013

On The Ray Lewis Retirement

There have been instances when sports figures were called to account for their misdeeds, if not by the courts then by the sport’s governing organizations. In many cases gambling appeared to be the only offense worth citing: Alex Karras, Paul Hornung, Pete Rose. But beyond gambling (although it continues today), there have been other examples including thuggery (see: NHL), spousal abuse (see: NFL and others), and fan/player brawls (see: NBA).

Ray Lewis announced that he is retiring from the Ravens. Before we spend one minute listening to the deification surrounding the impending retirement of Lewis, someone should remember a murder from thirteen years ago. Ray Lewis plea-bargained his way out of the potential prosecution for murder (as reported by CBC Sports):

NFL star Ray Lewis pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count today under an agreement that drops murder charges in the stabbing deaths of two man [sic] outside a Super Bowl party. Lewis entered the plea before Judge Alice Bonner, who agreed to the deal struck Sunday by prosecutors and Lewis’s lawyers. The obstruction of justice charge carries a maximum sentence of 12 months probation with first offender status.

In spite of (or because of) the plea-bargain, one way or another it remains entirely plausible that Lewis was knowledgeable of or in the middle of the deaths of Richard Lollar and Jacinth Baker. Writer Mike Bianchi’s column, published in yesterday’s Orlando Sentinel, is a reminder to football fans (and those seeking an answer to the murders) to take another look. Bianchi’s column is also a renewed call action to the FBI, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Atlanta Police, Georgia’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, Georgia Department of Public Safety, and Georgia’s Attorney General to pick up the cold case and get justice for Lollar and Baker. Lollar’s grandmother has yet to receive closure on the death of her grandson:

Joyce [Lollar] raised Richard Lollar, who was left dead in the street in the early morning hours on Jan. 31, 2000, — a few hours after the Rams defeated the Titans in one of the most thrilling Super Bowls in history. And then came one of the most chilling post-Super Bowl scenes in history. A brawl outside the Cobalt Lounge, an upscale Atlanta nightclub, turned into gory spectacle of steely knives, mangled flesh and a river of blood. The 24-year-old Lollar and his 21-year-old boyhood buddy from Akron, Jacinth Baker, were both stabbed multiple times in the heart, the knives savagely twisted into their vital organs. The killers knew exactly what they were doing.

Bianchi’s Orlando Sentinel column should be required reading by all of the program hosts,  their “experts”, and ex-NFL players on today’s hype-filled playoff programs on NBC, CBS, Fox, NFL Net and ESPN. While it’s appropriate to talk about the on-field history of Lewis, the story of the murders is—with few exceptions—unheard on this playoff morning. Lewis is not under scrutiny as one of those who knifed the victims, so we shouldn’t assume his participation in the murders. Nevertheless, without the arrest and conviction of those responsible, it is highly inappropriate to place Lewis on a pedestal.

NOTE: There’s more press since I posted this blog. Here’s a link to the latest story I’ve found on the murder of Richard Lollar, from today’s Washington Post: “Ray Lewis’s ties to Atlanta murders now a footnote — except among victim’s family”.

David Steffen

© David Steffen 2013

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