Something went down at a party one night in Atlanta 13 years ago, resulting in two people dead of knife wounds and Baltimore Ravens all-pro linebacker Ray Lewis and two companions charged with their murder. The case against them fell apart, with the companions acquitted at trial and the prosecution being reduced to a deal with Lewis himself where he pled guilty to a misdemeanor for not having his story straight when first questioned by the Atlanta police. That’s pretty much it, but the Washington Post will not let it go.
Last weekend, some hours before it was known that the Ravens would go to the Super Bowl this year for Lewis’s last game before his retirement, WaPo ran an Op-Ed-cum-feature-story entitled “Lance Amstrong vs. Manti Te’o: When does a sports hero deserve redemption?,” in which Lewis was put in the same bag as those who broke the rules of their respective sports because he was once accused of murder.
Now that it is known the Ravens and Lewis will be at the big commercial in New Orleans on February 3, the DC paper of record has seen fit to run the three-hanky weeper in its sports section “Ray Lewis’s ties to Atlanta murders now a footnote – except among the victim’s family,” in which the mother of one of the deceased men is interviewed at length about her pain. (The headline of the version in today’s print edition is more NYPost-like: “I made myself numb,” quoting the mother about her reaction upon learning of the death.)
Where to begin? I guess with “murder.” That was never proven: it might have been self-defense, for example, but who needs such niceties when you are trying to sell newspapers, and of course you have to have a “victim.” And then there is “footnote.” Yeah, like nobody’s talking about the matter: See, for example, “Future Ray Lewis employer dredges up murder case” from a couple of days ago.
I lay a lot of this to the Baltimore-Washington relationship as seen by the Post. The former place is, or at least was, an industrial city, whereas the latter is “a bourgeois town” (Leadbelly). In the sports arena this shows up most in baseball, where readers often complain that there is not enough coverage of the Orioles now that we have the Nationals, but what such readers may not notice is that the principal owner of the Orioles is a labor lawyer, whereas the Post is an anti-labor organ of long standing. But as to the sport at issue here, the Ravens have gone further in the playoffs this year than did the Washington R-words, after the latter’s coach refused to take an injured RGIII out of their last game when he clearly wasn’t helping the team, with the results that they lost the game and that their future may be compromised.
It sure helps to have a villain 40 miles to the north.