Elsewhere, a not-so-super view

Ravens' swagger doesn't win fans around country

January 30, 2001

A sampling of reports and columns about the Ravens and the Super Bowl from around the country:

Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times: In your face, America.

You don't like the best player on your best football team grabbing a piece of the field and rubbing it all over his writhing body and shouting, "This is our turf!" before the opening kickoff?

Dance on this.

You don't like a man who last year admittedly lied to police in an investigation for a still-unsolved double murder being honored as the outstanding player in the most important sporting event in the country?

Put a handcuff on it.

This is football, not life, as one muddled and manners-splattering Sunday night at Raymond James Stadium so vividly illustrated.

Dan Le Batard, Miami Herald: They are part sports team and part motorcycle gang, and today they are pro football's champions, too, the most violent group in a most violent game. The swaggering Baltimore Ravens, a team that might as well take the field carrying chains and broken bottles, didn't merely defeat the New York Giants in Sunday's Super Bowl. They beat them, like you would with a stick or a billy club. The final score was 34-7, and it was closer to abuse than it was to athletics.

You remember how last year's Super Bowl story was so cute, what with Rams quarterback Kurt Warner making the climb from grocery-store obscurity to the game's Most Valuable Player? Well, this year's story was every bit as riveting, if not quite as adorable, as Ray Lewis - famous defender, famous defendant - made the one-year journey from double-murder trial to Super Bowl MVP, prisoner to champion.

A weeping Lewis spent 15 days in jail after last year's Super Bowl in Atlanta, charged with murder after two men were killed in a fight he witnessed. He pleaded down to misdemeanor obstruction of justice and went from being handcuffed to playing this season as if he had been uncaged.

He danced. A world of lights were on him as the players were introduced before the game, and you could hear the booing. Lewis did not shrink from this light, from this sound. He stepped into it, embraced it as if it was something he had wanted all his life. He stepped out of the tunnel, picked up some grass and wiped it on his jersey like a man brushing lint off his lapel.

"To symbolize that this is our turf," he said later.

He slid from right to left in front of that tunnel, moving to music only he could hear. ... This is the way Lewis has punctuated player introductions every week this year, celebrating his freedom, lending his team some of his energy surplus.

Skip Bayless, Chicago Tribune: So this, mom or dad, is what you tell your kid about Ray Lewis, Super Bowl MVP.

Your kid went to bed Sunday night with Ravens fever. Your kid was doing Ray Lewis' creepy dance poses all the way to the bedroom. Now your kid just has to have a purple No. 52 Ray Lewis jersey because "everybody else will."

You're as shaken as the New York Giants. ...

Strip the fantasy off the Super Bowl. Tell your kid good guys don't always win. Explain that Lewis' value system is still out of whack-that he mistakenly thinks God has blessed him because he publicly praises God while privately making the bar scene, wearing showy jewelry and self-worshiping tattoos and running around on the two mothers of his four children.

Explain that Disney World didn't want Lewis doing its annual MVP commercial because he stands for so much kids shouldn't be. Point out that Lewis has no one to blame but himself. His response: "I'm going to be with my kids tomorrow. My kids don't want to be at no Disney."

Teammates are in awe of Lewis because he's a defiant warrior, because he walks his trash-talking talk, because he studies game film and lifts weights as hard as he plays. Tell your kid that this is why you should be proud to wear his No. 52.

Greg Cote, Miami Herald: Satan won the Super Bowl.

OK, that's an exaggeration.

Satan's favorite team won the Super Bowl.

Certainly Paul Tagliabue's favorite team didn't.

This was the nightmare night the NFL's commissioner had dreaded: Handing his league's championship trophy to Baltimore while Ray Lewis - the man who embarrassed the NFL with his attachment to that double slaying and was fined a record $250,000 by the commish - preened in proximity.

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