I enjoyed the Superbowl yesterday, which proved a classic game with the 49ers roaring back in the second half for a close game. However, the thing that most captured my attention was an interview shortly before the game by Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. Lewis is the face of the Baltimore Ravens and many have complained that he is hardly an inspiring figure given his prior indictment for a double murder. Lewis was asked about this continuing controversy and he came up with a curious claim of proven innocence: God cleared him. It appears that in sports and morality, nothing succeeds so much as success.
In an interview with Shannon Sharpe, Lewis was asked directly about how the family of the victims in 2000 objected to his being treated as a hero on the team when he has never shared what he knew about the murders and is believed to share responsibility in the death of two men. He was asked if he wanted to say something to the family members of the victims:
Here is Lewis’ response:
LEWIS: “It’s simple. God has never made a mistake. That’s just who he is. You see? And if our system, this is the sad thing about our system — if our system took the time to really investigate what happened 13 years ago, maybe they would have got to the bottom line truth.
But the saddest thing ever is a man looked me in my face and told me, ‘we know you didn’t do this. but you going down for it anyway.’To the family, if you knew — if you really knew — the way God works, he don’t use people who commits anything like that for his good. No way. It’s the total opposite.”
Putting aside the claim of divine acquittal for a second, the suggestion that he was blameless and merely a convenient scapegoat denies reality. The incident in question occurred at a post-Superbowl party on January 31, 2000. Lewis and his friends Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting, got into a fight with another group of men. That led to the stabbing death of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar. It was later learned that Oakley and Sweeting had bought knives earlier in the week from a Sports Authority. After leaving the scene, Lewis’ blood-stained white suit disappeared and prosecutors accused him of dumping the evidence. Baker’s blood was found inside of Lewis’s limousine. Many felt that Lewis should have been tried, particularly after Lewis admitted that he knew the men bought the knives at the store during a prior autograph session. He also gave a misleading statement to police following the killings. However, he was allowed to enter a guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice. He was givens the maximum sentence for a first offender by the court (12 months’ probation) and the highest fine meted out by the NFL for a non-drug offense ($250,000). Oakley and Sweeting were later acquitted of the charges in June 2000 and the crime has never been “solved.” In 2004, Lewis reached a settlement with the four-year-old of Lollar and Baker’s family.
Given this history, it is bizarre for Lewis to claim that if they “took the time to really investigate what happened 13 years ago, maybe they would have got to the bottom line truth.” The police (and many others) believed that the truth was obvious. Two men were stabbed after Lewis’ friends bought two knives and got into a fight with these men. They succeeded in defeating the charges but critical evidence was missing.
Now, to the main reason the interview stood out: the divine acquittal claim. It is perfectly bizarre that Lewis believes that not only does God pick winners in football games but does so to clear a person like Ray Lewis. Here is how it works in Lewis’ mind. God watched the NFL games and whenever Lewis plays, he uses his divine power to guarantee a Ravens victory in order to clear his name as one of the righteous. (This assumes of course that God has no favorite on the other teams). It appears that, with Tebow not playing, God moved on to Lewis for rigging games.
As bizarre as this seems to rational people, it is not much different from saying that God let your neighbors die but protected you from a hurricane or tornado or car accident. Of course, Lewis is claiming a level of divine guidance that dwarfs such claims. He insists that God has allowed him to flourish on the football field because of his innocence and “if you knew — if you really knew — the way God works, he don’t use people who commits anything like that for his good.”
This also ignores all of the truly evil people who flourish in life. Stalin died in his sleep after decades of war crimes and every type of wickedness. Mao did pretty well despite the Cultural Revolution. Then there are those countless felons, torturers, and others who thrive despite their crimes. It is a religious view that only O.J. Simpson would understand.
Then again, it might not be God who’s protecting such “creatures”:
Source: USA Today