Ray Lewis‘ path to the Hall of Fame is pretty clear. All he has to do is actually be eligible and retire.
That will come but not anytime soon because Lewis’ Ravens are in the midst of a Super Bowl push and the New England Patriots are the only team left that can stop them getting there.
What isn’t clear about Lewis’ legacy is the extent to which fans and the sports world alike remember the linebackers involvement in an incident in January, 2000 where two young men were murdered in Atlanta.
Lewis was initially charged with two counts of murder but later plead guilty to obstruction of justice after cooperating with prosecutors. The obstruction charge, a misdemeanor, led to a $250,000 fine from the NFL and one year’s worth of probation.
USA TODAY Sports reports the families of the two victims in that case, Richard Lollar and Jacinth Baker, are still uneasy about Lewis’ fame and career. Greg Wilson helped raise Baker and doesn’t like how he says the NFL protected Lewis from scrutiny.
“I cringe. I just cringe,” Wilson says of seeing Lewis on television. He’s upset at how the case was handled by Howard. He also blames the NFL and Ravens. Prior to the next Super Bowl in 2001, then-Ravens coach Brian Billick criticized the news media for continuing to ask questions about the murders.
“The problem to me is America was more interested in him playing football instead of him paying the price for what he was involved in,” Wilson says. “That’s how we feel. They wanted nothing to happen to him. (Team owner) Art Modell didn’t want his golden boy to suffer, so he could make money for him. So they did all they could to get him out of trouble.”
Lollar and Baker were 24 and 21 respectively when they were stabbed and later bled to death in the early morning hours of Jan. 31. Both young men were at an Atlanta nightclub following Super Bowl XXXIV between the St. Louis Rams and Tennessee Titans. The two got into an altercation with members of Lewis’ entourage.
Lewis has since successfully rehabilitated his image and is universally respected around the NFL as a leader and transformative public speaker. When approached by USA TODAY Sports to comment on their report, Lewis was defiant:
“You want to talk to me about something that happened 13 years ago right now?”
Lewis’ quest for a second Super Bowl ring continues against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots Sunday.
Click here to read the full report from USA TODAY.