On Saturday night, legendary Baltimore Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Lewis’ exploits on the gridiron are well-known over the course of his 17-year-career, but some comments he made to reporters before the ceremony on Friday about his off-the-field presence raised some eyebrows over the weekend.
According to Lewis, while the Ravens’ annual number of wins may have increased during his career, the staggering crime rate in the city of Baltimore decreased when he was active. And of course, the former #52 indicated it was because of him. “When I played, crime went lower in Baltimore,” he told ESPN’s Jamison Hensley. “It’s like, nobody needs to be mad now. It’s like everybody wants to be happy and celebrate.”
That’s a bold claim from Lewis, but it’s not the first time that he’s made the connection between football and crime rates in cities. Back in 2011, during the contentious labor negotiations between the league and player’s association which led to a lockout, Lewis told ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio that crime rates would go up if the lockout persisted.
“Do this research if we don’t have a season — watch how much evil, which we call crime, watch how much crime picks up, if you take away our game,” Lewis told ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio.
That’s because, Lewis said, the NFL lockout affects “way more than us” — the owners and the players.
When asked why he thought crime would increase if the NFL doesn’t play games this year, Lewis said: “There’s nothing else to do Sal.”
We didn’t find out whether or not Lewis was right about the lockout since it ended prior to the season and the league was able to get all 16 games in along with an abbreviated preseason. As for the crime rates in Baltimore during Lewis’ career, well, the website CityData doesn’t exactly back up his claim.
Regardless, as you would expect in the Twitter universe, Lewis’ comments were met with jokes — and it was by and large different versions of the same one.
Those replies are referencing the incident in 2000 when Lewis pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in connection to the deaths of two men. While Lewis did get clowned by some for his Friday comments, his speech on Saturday at the ceremony drew high marks.