One reason Seattle should root for the 49ers: Ray Lewis

Seattle likes Marshawn Lynch: wry, speaking through action, watching the world with knowing, amused eyes. And able to shut his mouth. Ray Lewis? Well, he's no Marshawn.
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Marshawn Lynch and Seahawk fans shook the seisometers during the 2011 playoff game against New Orleans.

Seattle likes Marshawn Lynch: wry, speaking through action, watching the world with knowing, amused eyes. And able to shut his mouth. Ray Lewis? Well, he's no Marshawn.

Baltimore’s Ray Lewis has been a superb NFL player for 17 seasons. I wish he would take a lesson from the Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch and just shut the hell up.

Since he won’t  . . . go, 49ers.

As with most national holidays, the Super Bowl mandates some sort of worship — God, Santa, flag, ground hog, flightless bird. So I will kneel Sunday before the Evil Harbaugh Brother and beseech whoever’s in charge of football outcomes that Lewis’s grill gets so filled with, say, 49ers running back Frank Gore, that he is unable to speak in post-game interviews to blame God for the loss (which he would feel obligated to do, since it is God who, according to Lewis, is ushering the Ravens to the sporting pinnacle Sunday).

Lynch, as Seahawks fans have come to learn, is an intriguing dude, but one who prefers to avoid interviews.  In the few, brief conversations I’ve had with him, he says things in such an amusingly oblique way that I’m never sure if he is laughing with or at me, or the world, or no one. While that should be annoying to me as a reporter, somehow it has become endearing.

Lynch is the perambulating epitome of the advice handed down in the Book of First Crustiness in the St. (Chuck) Knox version of the Bible: “Let your actions speaketh so well that I have no needeth of your words.”

Lewis, however, is the opposite, and therefore annoying. He can blather and bloviate on most any subject, regularly choosing the third person as his demolition derby vehicle, and takes his oral dreck over a cliff where no one even saw an edge.

Besides the inexplicable oratory, many fans haven’t forgotten his involvement in a January 2000 fight in Atlanta in which he and two friends faced murder charges in the stabbing deaths of two men. The friends were acquitted and Lewis maintained his innocence,  copping to a plea of a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice. But the NFL fined him $250,000. He later paid $300,000 to settle a civil case brought by the victims’ families.

Lewis has had no further legal trouble. But his ability to make little or no sense has continued unabated. Whatever shred of cred he had evaporated for me in May 2011, during the NFL’s lockout of the players, when he said that the threatened absence of the NFL’s regular season would cause crime to soar across America.

“Do the research if we don’t have a season — watch how much evil, which we call crime, watch crime pick up if you take away our game,” he told ESPN in an interview. “There’s too many people that live through us. Yeah, walk in the streets, the way I walk the street, and I’m not talking about the people you see all the time.”

Asked to explain how crime would increase, he said, “There’s nothing else to do.”

Entire doctoral dissertations can be written on the parallel universe that Lewis described, but I’ll keep it brief by saying the amount of methane released by that statement was solely responsible for warming global temperatures by two degrees that summer.

This week Lewis’s cartoonish existence was drawn even more absurdly when a Sports Illustrated story claimed that Lewis and other athletes used a drug identified as deer antler velvet spray (just when I think I’ve written everything in this business, I write “deer antler velvet spray”) to help heal injuries. What this substance is, and whether it helps or hurts, whether it is banned or not banned, was not made very clear. But on Day 2 in the media frenzy in New Orleans, Lewis’ initial refusal to talk about the allegation (which is like expecting low tide to stay put) morphed into this bewilderment from Lewis Wednesday

“I think, honestly, and I’m going to say this very clearly again, I think it’s one of the most embarrassing things that we can do on this type of stage. I think it takes totally away from — you give somebody the ability to come into our world. Our world is a very secret society, and we try to protect our world as much as we can. But when you let cowards come in and do things like that, to try to disturb something — I’ve said it before, I’ve said it a million times — the reason why I’m smiling because it’s so funny, the story. Because I’ve never, ever took what he says — whatever I was supposed to do.”

Lewis has inadvertently created a challenge for the nation’s legion of underemployed English majors — parsing a Lewis quote for a direct line between two thoughts. Winner gets asylum in Brazil, where he/she can never be forced to return to the U.S. again and encounter a Lewis broadcast.

Yes, broadcast. Following his announcement last month that this season was his last, it was disclosed that Lewis’s agent was negotiating a contract to work ESPN’s football shows next season. Not since Bluto in “Animal House” asked, “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?” has the nation’s intellectual treasury faced a greater internal threat than paying Ray Lewis to be in charge of a microphone.

Here was Lewis' summary of the deer antler velvet story: “That’s the trick of the devil. The trick of the devil is to kill, steal and destroy. That’s what he comes to do. He comes to distract you from everything you’re trying to do.”

If Lewis is right about the devil and deer antlers, I ache for those long-ago days when our biggest sports concerns were a football player’s fake dead girlfriend who was a guy.

Lewis and the Ravens already won a Super Bowl after the 2000 season when they beat the New York Giants, 34-7, and Lewis was named MVP. That is sufficient. Adding “two-time Super Bowl champ” to his resume would simply encourage Lewis and ESPN to perpetrate this crime against English and logic.

Please, San Francisco 49ers, I urge you to take a stand. And Ray Lewis, please listen to Marshawn Lynch when he says nothing. There is virtue in mystery.


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