The thing I love most about sports is that it’s the last of the silent picture shows.
For the trespass of a few hours time, you never hear the main characters utter a single word. It’s an entirely visual activity, which is what makes it so pleasing. And I don’t count the announcers, since I usually mute my television rather than be bludgeoned by useless information and celebrity rubdowns in the booth.
Silence is the way I take my modern athlete. And it’s not even about the occasional dumb things that come out of their mouths. Every profession has people who say dumb things, after all. In fact, cable news networks pay big money to their talent for doing just that.
It’s actually about the guys who cover these athletes. Too few of them will press a Rashard Mendenhall on his Osama bin Laden comments regarding 9/11; instead allowing him to hide behind a Twitter tweet. They’ll harp on the kid’s comments for days rather than get in his face and ask followup questions with some bite. Sports journalism is covered from the outside in rather than the inside out.
Ray Lewis became the latest example this week. And his Dr. Loomis impersonation just doesn’t work for me. He claims that should this impasse between labor and management extend into the season, there’s going to be blood in the streets. According to Ray, society is going to be pissed off if there is no football- to which I would agree.
So pissed– according to Ray- that crime rates will go up across the nation. “Evil” will reign. Kurt Russell will be escaping from LA for real this time, and they don’t even have a pro team there yet.
It’s interesting to note that Ray Lewis pled guilty to obstruction of justice charges related to the murder of two men in January of 2000. The incident happened during Super Bowl week, which last I looked, falls within the safety zone of an NFL calendar season.
Ray Lewis attended Miami University, a college whose football program specializes in recruiting gang members. Over much of the last three decades- as Miami Metro could attest- crime has known no season on this campus.
The old Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia had a jail cell ON the premises. It was not used for off season walking tours, either. Hell, you can name your felony at practically any Oakland Raiders home game. And that time the fans in Cleveland threw beer bottles onto the field? Was that not supposed to be considered a crime because they were plastic?
I could go on, but why even try when an old pro like Sal Paolantonio cannot and will not challenge Ray Lewis on his comments? The unspoken reality here is that Sal works with these guys year round. To offend one member of the fraternity, especially a member as influential as Lewis, is to offend the entire hive.
Ray Lewis has the right to speak on any subject he pleases. And it’s not his job to be factual or correct. Which is why I like my athletes to be seen and not heard.