If members of the Ravens heckled a reporter from USA Today who dared to ask linebacker Ray Lewis about an unsolved double murder case, they could soon be getting the rotten tomatoes and eggs ready for anyone with a four-letter network affiliation.
ESPN, which reportedly will hire Lewis after he retires, devoted an entire episode of Outside The Lines to the impact of the 13-year-old murder case on the legacy of one of the greatest players in NFL history.
A pre-taped item narrated by Bob Ley revisited the aftermath of the case, which resulted in Lewis being charged with murder and eventually pleading guilty to obstruction of justice. The package included defiant quotes from former Ravens tight end Shannon Sharpe and former Ravens coach Brian Billick from the week preceding Super Bowl XXXV, which were intended to force the media to turn the page permanently (or at least until after the game) on any talk of the unsolved murders.
“I find it inexcusable that that organization from the top down from the owner to the coach went into that Super Bowl and somehow acted like Ray Lewis got a bad deal,” Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post said during the segment. “Ray Lewis got a raw deal? Compared to who? The dead guy?”
Lewis may find it inexcusable that so much time has been spent by his future employer on a 13-year old case, which he refused to discuss earlier this month when questioned about it by USA Today. ESPN’s decision to devote 30 full minutes to the topic arguably makes the subject fair game for everyone else.
Michael Hiestand of USA Today participated in the live discussion that followed. “There’s certainly nothing wrong with anyone raising questions about murders that are unsolved,” Hiestand said.
Indeed, if the media outlet that will soon be issuing paychecks to Lewis can raise those questions, then anyone can.