Given the way the sports networks were slurping on Ray Lewis this post-season, reports about possible doping violations were probably not going to be part of the narrative during Super Bowl week. This was supposed to be a glorious end to a hall of fame career--with Lewis riding off into the sunset with another ring--after coming back from a torn triceps muscle injury that sidelined him for about half the regular season.
With the Ravens not being one of the top seeds in the AFC, I'm sure ESPN, CBS and Fox thought that the Ray Lewis Retirement Tour was just going to be a one or two week thing. Just show his megalomaniacal pre-game introduction dance, air his nonsensical pre-game "pep talks", rush the field to capture his kneeling at mid-field crying and babbling on the gound, and then let him ramble on in a post-game interview Wild Card Weekend and we should be done. But then the Ravens beat Indianapolis--so the whole dog and pony show was repeated for another week--with the expectation that Baltimore would certainly lose to Denver.
And it looked like that would be the case--until the Bronco's secondary suffered a collective brain cramp and blew a last-minute lead. All of a sudden, Ray Lewis was "willing his team to victory!!" And we had to put up with another week of crying, shouting, dancing and proseltyzing. Then New England choked away another win against the Ravens--and all of a sudden we could look forward to another two weeks of hearing about Ray Lewis' greatness and amazing personal transformation!
Then the "real" Ray Lewis had to show up and ruin the feel good story of the year. Personally, I didn't even know that deer antler velvet had healing properties in humans--and that it was on the NFL's banned substance list. (You have to go on the assumption that if it's on the list--someone before Ray Lewis had been using it.) Further ruining the sports media love affair is the re-emergence of the families of the two men killed by Lewis' "posse" in Atlanta during Super Bowl week in 2000, with their accusations that Lewis was never fully honest with investigators--even after murder charges against him were dismissed in a plea deal. (As Ray would tell you, "Snitches get stitches")
So now Super Bowl pre-game producers are faced with a tough decision: air all of the "We love Ray Lewis" pieces that you know they've spent the past ten days taping and editing--or try to push the "face of this Super Bowl" into the background just in case the doping allegations turn out to be true. Either way, I would hope that the lesson we all learn is not to glorify bad people.