I was a fan of Ray Lewis the linebacker from the first time I saw him lighting folks up as a true freshman at the University of Miami back in 1993 during a game against Florida State University in Tallahassee. Of the almost 20 tackles he made that day, one in particular, where he suplexed FSU star freshman Warrick Dunn on a run up the middle (see pic below), made me realize that I was watching a man who could potentially redefine the position. Though the ‘Noles won the game 28-10 that day, Lewis established himself as a star in the eyes of many football fanatics of all races.
After years of dominating the college and pro game, Lewis found himself charged with double murder back in 2000 and I along with many of his fans, particularly the black ones, prayed for him as he insisted he was innocent. Even when he plead guilty to Obstruction of Justice in the murder investigation and had the formal double murder charges dropped, I and many like me were vocal and hopeful that he would resume his career. Lest we forget, there were calls for Lewis to be waived, just like years later Michael Vick would find folks demanding that he not he not get signed again to play after his stint in federal prison for dogfighting.
Remembering such, it angers me greatly to see Ray Lewis, a Florida native the same as I who knows that the worst insult one could be called in our variation of Southern Ebonics is a “Fuck Nigga,” is acting like one of those while becoming the spokesperson for all of the righteously indignant acting “patriots” (read–WASP conservatives) who despise former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the Star Spangled Banner last year to protest police excessive use of force against Black people. Instead of supporting Kaep unconditionally, like many of us supported him even after he plead to a serious crime, Lewis has doubled down on his insistence that Kaep should shut up and play ball because Massa, I meant the NFL “Owners,” are impliedly saying “shut up and run, jump, block, or tackle following that interception, nigga.”
So, I had to step to Brother Ray via Twitter in hopes that if enough folks show him where he is errant, that he will see the errors in his ways and come back into the light from the “sunken place” that Cap’n Boss ‘nem have him in at this point in time:
Maybe, just maybe, Ray Lewis and those Brothers and Sisters who agree with his thoughts that Black ball players should just “shut up and play ball,” will finally realize the power in dignified peaceful protests from the most valuable “commodities” that NFL “owners” possess–Black athletes. Much like the elder athletes from many of our parents’ era who understood the need for unity in the face of injustice, like the Muhammad Ali’s, the Jim Brown’s, and the Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s as pictured below: