The Shameful Honoring Of Ray Lewis

John Steigerwald Contributor
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The value of every statue on the planet took a tumble on Thursday. That’s the day when former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis got his.

The Ravens unveiled the statue of Lewis outside of M&T Bank Stadium and it now stands as exhibit “A” of what, in the last few years, has become rampant statue inflation.

Remember when statues meant something?

How much value would the Lincoln Memorial lose tomorrow if a Bill Clinton Memorial, with a statue the same size, were placed next to it?

Johnny Unitas’ statue had stood alone outside the Ravens’ stadium until Thursday. It was unveiled in 2002, long before the statue standard had been lowered.

Unitas is considered by millions to be the best quarterback in NFL history. He’s probably Baltimore’s number one sports star of all time, even though he played for a team that eventually sneaked out of town in the middle of the night.

Michael Jordan has a statue in Chicago.

Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Bill Mazeroski and Mario Lemieux have statues in Pittsburgh.

Stan Musial has one in St. Louis, Bobby Orr in Boston, Bear Bryant in Alabama. Wayne Gretzky has two: one in Edmonton and one in Los Angeles.

Cam Newton has one in Auburn, Alabama. He was Auburn University’s quarterback for one year. He won the Heisman Trophy, which is a pretty nice statue in itself, but that is obviously no longer enough. One season now gets you life size immortality.

Nick Saban got one in Alabama after four years as the head coach.

Statues are popping up everywhere and the more statues there are the less significant each one becomes.

Hundreds of people showed up for the unveiling of Lewis’ statue.

Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar weren’t able to make it, though. They’re both still dead.

They died on January 31, 2001 and Ray Lewis was charged with their murder. Ray eventually copped a plea to obstruction of a murder investigation in return for his testimony against two of his friends.

Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting beat the rap.

The blood-soaked, white suit that Lewis wore that night has never been found.

Nobody should call you crazy if you believe that Lewis knows who killed Baker and Lollar.

For that matter, until the murderer is found, feel free to include Lewis among the suspects.

When he was asked about it during one of the many media slobber fests prior to his appearance in Super Bowl XLVII, Lewis said, “You want to talk to me about something that happened 13 years ago right now?”

It’s okay to build a statue based on the past, but the murder is old news.

Lewis was celebrated by the media as the Ravens’ inspirational leader. Listen to his colleagues at ESPN and you would think he’s Martin Luther King.

His quarterback in Super Bowl XLVII, Joe Flacco, said 90 percent of his pre game speeches were “gibberish.”

He is unmarried and has six kids by four different women. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

While nobody would deny his greatness as a player, he will be remembered most for the ridiculous “dance” that he would do before every home game.

That’s why the statue outside M & T Bank Stadium captures him in mid-dance, head back, mouth open. They played his entrance song, “Hot in Here” by Nelly, at the unveiling.

“No deceivin’, nothin’ up my sleeve, no teasin’
I need you to get up on the dance floor
Give that man what he’s askin’ for”

The families of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar are still asking for justice. They probably believed they would get that before Ray-Ray got his statue.

Here’s hoping the pigeons in Baltimore do their duty early and often.

Pittsburgh ex-TV sportscaster, columnist and talk show host John Steigerwald is the author of the Pittsburgh sports memoir, “Just Watch The Game.” Follow him on Twitter.

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John Steigerwald