Lewis' helicopter ride turns hairy, then scary


December 13, 2007|By Edward Lee and Jamison Hensley | Edward Lee and Jamison Hensley,SUN REPORTERS

Tuesday's off day wasn't so relaxing for Ray Lewis.

The Ravens' eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker endured a harrowing helicopter ride through fog and rain before landing in a field in Cecil County.

Lewis spent that morning and part of the afternoon shooting an Under Armour commercial in New York. Because the shoot ended too late for him to take a train to get back to a Christmas party for about 600 children at 4 p.m. in Baltimore, Under Armour paid for a helicopter to fly Lewis back.

That's when the craziness began, Lewis said.

"We get halfway to Baltimore and all of a sudden out of nowhere, a fog jumped on us," he recalled. "Fog, rain, and we were like, `Are you serious?' But now we're trapped over water, and I can't see out of the helicopter."

Lewis said the pilot began guiding the helicopter to lower altitudes to find a place to land. The pilot finally found a field in Cecil County and landed safely.

One of Lewis' bodyguards, a former Baltimore police officer, called 911, and state troopers found Lewis and his party in the field about 90 minutes later. A police escort transported Lewis to the party, where he arrived at 5:30 p.m. (Lewis said a normal helicopter ride would have gotten him to Baltimore by 3:15 p.m.)

Lewis said it one of the scariest experiences of his life.

"I put on my headphones, and I just started praying," he said. "But it makes you appreciate life. That's when I started thinking, `Wow. We are so selfish to think about so many things that are out of our control, but when your life is tested like that ... '"

McAlister on IR; season over

Chris McAlister's season ended yesterday when the Ravens placed the Pro Bowl cornerback on injured reserve because of a right knee injury.

With McAlister out, the Ravens probably will start Samari Rolle and Corey Ivy at cornerback and play Derrick Martin at nickel back Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.

If Rolle, who missed practice yesterday with a shoulder injury, is sidelined, too, the Ravens likely will start Ivy and Martin and use David Pittman at nickel back.

McAlister will have his knee looked at by another specialist before deciding whether he needs surgery.

Heap `re-tweaked' hamstring

Tight end Todd Heap said he has not considered ending his season and going on IR to heal a strained hamstring.

Heap, who has played only once in the past nine games and did not practice yesterday, said he had been hoping to play against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night, but "re-tweaked" the hamstring during practice before the game.

"It's about as frustrating as it gets when you know you can't be out there - good or bad - helping the team," Heap said. "All I can do is do everything I can to try to get out on the field, and that's what I've been doing."

Meanwhile, defensive tackles Kelly Gregg (thigh), Haloti Ngata (knee) and Justin Bannan (knee) and safety Gerome Sapp (hamstring) were limited in practice yesterday.

Ngata said a magnetic resonance imaging on his left knee revealed just a sprain, and he hopes to play Sunday.

edward.lee@baltsun.com jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

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