Tuesday, February 17, 2009

When Ray Lewis becomes a free agent, BUYER BEWARE!

If Ray Lewis leaves the Ravens it will be the result of some team overpaying for his services. And if that willing big spender is Jerry Jones it will surprise no one. But he better be careful.

If Jones is willing to overspend in part because he thinks that somehow Lewis is going to arrive in Dallas aboard the peace train and wave some magic wand or start a kumbaya sing-a-long to bring harmony to the Cowboys’ locker room, he better think again.

Some want to believe that Lewis’ leadership skills may inspire Terrell Owens to chant the company line. Those people haven’t been paying attention.

Let’s make no mistake about it, Owens is a diva. He has shown in the past that he doesn’t respect his teammates, coaches or opponents one of which is Ray Lewis. Remember his TD celebration in Philly, mocking Lewis’ entrance dance?

The first time Owens gets 2 catches for 16 yards without a touchdown, do you think Ray Lewis’ presence on the sidelines will give him pause and stave off another meltdown?

Fat chance!

And why should Lewis have babysitting responsibilities? He’s never really been a babysitter in Baltimore and never wanted to be one!

Chris McAlister is the most recent former Raven. Here’s a three-time Pro Bowler who plays a position that is a need position for the team yet he’s leaving. And why is that? Answer: McAlister in part is a malcontent and he won’t chant the company line.

If Ray Lewis couldn’t get McAlister to buy into the program here in Baltimore as the face of the franchise, unequivocal leader of the team and the greatest Raven of all time, what makes anyone think that he can turn around arguably the league’s biggest drama queen in Dallas?

Did Lewis do anything to reboot fellow Miami alum Willis McGahee’s attitude?

How about Jamal Lewis?

The drama that those three players combined to produce over the course of their careers as a Raven doesn’t equate to one season of drama with Owens.

Plus if the truth be told about Lewis, he seems to hide a bit when the atmosphere is turbulent. Before the Ravens 2005 season was finished and despite the need for veteran leadership down the stretch, where was Lewis? He was in Miami unbeknownst to the team having surgery on his hamstring and then later found along the sidelines during a college bowl game while he was suppose to be healing.

During that offseason Lewis was all over ESPN throwing teammates under the proverbial bus and requesting a trade if the team wasn’t going to get him a behemoth defensive tackle to eat up blockers.

After any tough loss, where is Lewis?

Usually he gives the media the slip…unavailable for comment.

Where Lewis shines is on the field as a leader. His countless hours of preparation before each game studying film and learning opponents’ tendencies enable him to be a coach on the field. He recognizes plays pre-snap and then aware of his teammates’ strengths and core competencies, he can direct them, sometimes verbally, sometimes with a hand signal or even eye contact.

But remove him from Baltimore and can anyone else expect the same leadership from Lewis? Other players around the league clearly respect Lewis but do they know and respect him like his mates for so many years? And without the respect, camaraderie and the little idiosyncrasies that teammates develop after playing together for years can Lewis even be as productive on the field?

The logical answer to all of the above questions is no and that is why Steve Bisciotti and Ozzie Newsome were very wise to state their price and have the courage to let Lewis explore his value on the open market if he and his agent objected to the number.

And apparently they have.

Any team interested in Lewis has to understand that they will not get the Ray Lewis from Baltimore just like the Washington Wizards never got the Michael Jordan from Chicago. What they will get is an aging superstar who was a Hall of Famer in his original locale but just a good to very good player with a very limited shelf life elsewhere.

The bet here is that Lewis will remain a Raven. It would be na├»ve for another team to think that Lewis could be as productive for their team and then pay more for the diminished productivity. Before any team is willing to pay the freight for Lewis, they better ask themselves why the Ravens aren’t willing to match the offer for someone with his history and value to the organization.

More so than Jerry Rice or Ronnie Lott or Emmitt Smith or Junior Seau – even Joe Montana and Brett Favre, Ray Lewis’ departure from his original team for a few million dollars should send a clear and present danger signal to the club ready to stroke that big check for No. 52.

Caveat emptor!

Buyer beware!


Harryos29 said...

harry o 29 FEB 17th
Good article Tony. I just read the Brian Mac Farland piece on Ray. I think the Ravens should tell Ray ..GO GET YOUR BEST OFFER ..then Come back. I firmly believe that he may be the GREATEST Linebacker to have played the game...and I've been watching the NFL since 1958! However, Tavaris Gooden was nick named "little Ray" in Camp last year. Lets get a big time Wide Receiver and see what LITTLE RAY can do. Its gotta happen sooner or later. STEVE B SAID he wanted to follow the Pittsburgh model...

CityThatReeds.com said...

Ray has made everyone on that defense better and when they leave the ravens ( hartwell, starks, A. Thomas) they are not the same. Look at the great year Fabian & walker had. do you think f walker would have done the same somewhere else?
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