Perfection on the field means not denigrating another in the media

By Gregory Moore
Updated: November 6, 2004

Ray Lewis

SAN ANTONIO, TX. – I have never been a huge fan of Ray Lewis or any other professional athlete. In my eyes, there only two men in my life who get the kind of ‘homage’ that so many put in athletes, my father and the Man upstairs himself. After that, I don’t have role models that I salivate after. Yet there are countless fans who do exactly that and that can be a dangerous situation when you find out that they are as human as you are and have human frailties like you do. So when Ray Lewis was involved in a double murder five years ago, I wasn’t to broke up over that fact of athlete lore. Yet at the same time let me say that after he has gone through and changed his life and has understood that you can’t hang with the same folks that you used to hang out before the fame and glory, I applaud him for changing his life around and being a living witness to that effect. So when Terrell Owens decided to bring Lewis’ past up in conversation this past week after the Philadelphia Eagles star mocked Lewis’ pre-game ritual, I was more than a little upset. I felt like Owens trampled on my life too and brought out whatever wrongdoing I had done. I felt that way because in my opinion “TO” decided to cross the line of demarcation between what’s on the field and what are a person’s personal affairs. That was wrong but of course Owens doesn’t see it that way.

There are people who will continue to make excuses for Owens’ antics and that’s fine. In the sports world you get fans that just aren’t intelligent enough to understand some of the deeper aspects of the sports world. What Owens did was blatant and he knew what he was doing. You want to have a war of words with another player, that’s fine. Reggie Miller and Spike Lee had a war of words that were a part of a rivalry between the Indiana Pacers, which Miller plays for, and the Knicks, a team that Lee has courtside season tickets with. But with Terrell it’s different. The situation between him and Lewis is far from being the banter between Miller and Lewis. It gets personal because Owens decided to use the words of the words of Joey Porter in his assessment of portraying Lewis as the all-NFL poster child who has special privileges. In that regards, not only is Owens wrong but so is Porter.

It’s fine for this guy to celebrate, but it’s not fine for this guy,” Porter was quoted as saying to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. “It’s good for this guy to be creative, but it’s not good for this guy. Why isn’t it funny when Terrell does the pom-poms? You guys can make who the good guys are. The media has total control over that.

“…But this guy [Lewis] just comes off a murder case and he comes back dancing and goes to the Super Bowl and you love every minute about it. He gets a 4-minute introduction when he comes out. They absolutely go crazy for it. He makes a tackle, he dances every play and you guys love it. Terrell scores a touchdown and he does his celebration and, for some reason, you guys just choose, ‘We don’t like you. You aren’t one of the guys we pick.’ I never thought it was fair.”

Let’s get something clear. To begin with if Lewis, Porter, Owens or any of those other high priced cry babies want to be Neanderthals, then that’s their prerogative. You want to trash talk, fine. As a fan I think that’s what adds a little color to the game. However the minute you start mentioning the personal aspects of your ‘co-workers’ in public light to benefit your own personal gain, I have a problem with that because just what is going to stop you from doing something stupid and out of the eyes of the media. In other words what I am saying is this: if you are going to throw stones at Ray Lewis, you better be able to say for certain that you will never in your adult life make a decision that could be immoral, illegal or anything else that falls under the moral turpitude portion of your playing contract. Are Porter and/or Owens saying that they are perfect citizens both on and off the field? That’s what their remarks are suggesting to this reporter.

As many of us know about Owens, he likes to showboat. As a Cowboys fan I still remember how he sat there and mocked Deion Sanders in the middle of the field at Texas Stadium. George Teague hit him but in the eyes of many fans of BOTH teams, that wasn’t hard enough. Last Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens, Owens mocked Lewis’ game dance. The problem I have with Lewis is that he or his teammates didn’t make Owens pay for his little outburst. Nothing dangerous to where Owens is sidelined but just a ‘love tap’ to say “Okay you’ve had your fun now knock it off.” What’s more is that Porter should have kept his mouth shut because it’s not like he’s the most stellar linebacker in Steelers’ history and this issue we are talking about is between Owens and Lewis. As the kids say, “It’s and A and B conversation, C your way out of it.”

Owens’ antics remind me of the Budweiser commercial figure Leon. Owens says he’s all about the team and yet here he is popping off at the mouth about the personal trials of a fellow football player. Sometimes the word ‘team’ goes beyond those 51 other guys you practice and play with. Sometimes they also extend to the 300 plus others in the league. Owens doesn’t get that because in his eyes he has done nothing wrong and as long as he, Andy Reid and others in the organization believe that, he’ll continue acting the way he is.

Perfection on the field is admirable but if you are not a ‘perfect’ being off the field, you are useless to the rest of us. Being ‘perfect’ means understanding that there are some things that you simply cannot do or say in the public eye and Owens fails to realize that his bitching to the media about Ray Lewis and how he is treated even though he is a ‘convicted’ criminal shows that the maturity level to be a total person just isn’t within his grasp. Perfection on the field also means that you do not disrespect your fellow football brethren. That’s something that somebody in Philly needs to make sure that #81 understands before it’s too late.