A day after news emerged of a party bus and a champagne bottle and a lady named Sweet Pea cracking receiver Jacoby Jones upside the head with it, Ravens receiver Torrey Smith tried to downplay the incident.
As Smith explains it, it’s only an incident because the media found out about it.
“It’s only bad because someone went and ran to TMZ,” Smith said Tuesday at a Habitat for Humanity construction project, via Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. “If no one knew, it wouldn’t be an issue. We would resolve it in the locker room. It’s resolved anyways. We just have to deal with the questions from the media. I think it’s funny that we’re doing this, building a home, one day after everybody found out about the other thing. We all know it comes with the territory. Everybody is doing a great job.”
We understand Smith’s point, even if his words may come off to some as a little crass. He’s a great player and a responsible kid, and what those present at the party bus did shouldn’t be a reflection on players who weren’t there. Besides, if the locker room had 53 guys like Torrey Smith, the incident likely wouldn’t have happened.
The media won’t find out about an embarrassing incident if an embarrassing incident doesn’t happen. As ESPN analyst and former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis has explained, it points to an absence of leadership.
Smith disagrees with Lewis, and Smith wasn’t afraid to say so.
“We have great leadership, so to say because of one incident, that it’s a leadership issue, to me, is a joke because everyone is not going to always be around and incidents happen,” Smith said. “Stuff happens in the locker room, stuff happens in the spur of the moment. Now, if it happens every week, all the time, then that’s a problem. For one incident to happen and say it’s a leadership issue when most of the team wasn’t there, it’s an overreaction.”
Maybe it’s an overreaction the organization helped engineer. At a time when the Ravens are looking for new leaders to step up, and in the immediate aftermath of coach John Harbaugh publicly chiding those involved in the incident, it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that someone from the team asked Lewis to join in the chorus, essentially challenging Smith and others to hold those involved in the party bus incident sufficiently accountable to keep stuff like that from happening again.
Regardless, whether other incidents happen will depend on how the team responds to this one. And on whether players like Smith will be willing to demand better behavior at a time when the Ravens are trying to pull off the rare feat of repeating.