Role Model Ray

So Super Bowl XLVII is right on the horizon and the story headlines abound, as they should for the biggest game of the year in the US.  We have the Har-Bowl storyline which refers to the Harbaugh brothers opposing one another as head coaches in the Super Bowl, which has never before happened.  Then there is the 49er’s superstar rookie quarterback Colin Kaepernick who has only played 9 games in the NFL and will start on Sunday in the Super Bowl!  We can’t forget the Bey-Bowl, as Beyonce will be performing in the half-time show!  And then of course there is the legendary, future hall-of-fame line-backer Ray Lewis on the Baltimore Ravens who will play the final game of his 17 year career in Super Bowl XLVII.  Win or lose, that’s an awesome way to end a storied football career.

With all of the attention that the biggest game of the year brings, Ray Lewis’ past transgressions have come to the forefront once again in the media and among fans of opposing teams.  I’m sure you are aware that Lewis pled guilty to obstruction of justice for his involvement in a night-club double-murder investigation.  I vaguely remember all that went down surrounding the case in real time, but as a home-grown New England Patriots fan I never really liked Ray Lewis for the simple fact that he was a player on the Ravens.  In fact, a couple of years ago when he was getting lots of love after a big game, I, Kara the Dynamo, even tweeted about how everyone must be forgetting what he’s done in the past and how time heals all moral wounds.  The truth is, as I previously mentioned I could not recall the details of his transgressions and was thinking his crime was the one that Rae Carruth committed (which really makes no sense since Carruth is still in jail).  Big Ooops on my part!  I sincerely apologize for what I have said in the past about Ray.

Anyhow, after watching the “A Football Life” special on Ray Lewis my misinformed opinions of him changed dramatically and I too became a Ray fan!  With the details of the case he was actually involved in being re-examined at a time that should be joyful for him, I am now not only a fan, but also a Ray defender!  Some in the media have said that Ray should be careful about talking about God so much because he then opens himself up to the type of criticism he has received from people like Wes Welker’s wife.  If you aren’t familiar, following the Patriots’ loss to the Ravens in the recent AFC Championship game Mrs. Welker Facebook posted some disparaging comments about Lewis, sarcastically alluding to him being a murderer and having too many baby mamas.  She has since apologized for her comments, and Ray has forgiven her while referencing scripture saying “I’ve always been a firm believer of the Good Book, and the Good Book always confirms, even a fool is counted wise until he opens he or she mouth.”  (I claim that forgiveness for my remarks too Ray!  Thanks!) I disagree that Ray should in any way hide his faith because of his past regardless of what that past is.  I see Ray as a shining example of the transformative power that a relationship with God can have in someone’s life and I love that he isn’t quiet about it!  Look at the Apostle Paul; he persecuted Christians like whoa, and then became one of the most well-known followers of Christ and authored several books in the New Testament.

I recently had a conversation with a friend about referencing scripture in relation to football and whether or not it was an appropriate venue.  My stance is that I personally do not believe God cares about the outcome of any sporting event.  There are people who have a relationship with God on both sides of the game who pray to play well or even to win the game.  At the same time, I believe that God can use any person and any situation to touch people’s lives and bring them into relationship with him.  If anyone watched the Denver vs. Baltimore game a few weeks ago, you would know that the way Baltimore won the game was nothing short of amazing and many would say miraculous.  I wonder how many people who watched that game were touched when they heard Ray Lewis after the win, with tears in his eyes say, “God is amazing, and when you believe in Him…man believes in the possible, God believes in the impossible.” We can’t really know; we never know what is really going on in any individual’s life.  How do we know if there are players within the Baltimore Ravens organization who were ministered to by their victory and seeing their team’s leader give all of the glory to God in a Psalm 91 t-shirt?  I’m not saying that God determined the outcome of that game, or any other game, but like I said, He can use any situation to His glory.  Would the players who had the biggest spotlight after the game on Denver’s team have glorified God after the win the way several Ravens players did? Would the coach of the Broncos have attributed their win to the team’s faith in a higher power in the way that the Ravens’ John Harbaugh did?  We will never know, but in my mortal mind, if I was God and I could do whatever I wanted I would DEFINITELY hook up the team that praised my name after their victory.  The Bible states that we should all do everything we do to the Glory of God, and all believers should influence the lives of those they interact with in a positive way, and I don’t believe that excludes professional athletes.

I pray that the seeds that have been planted in the lives of the younger players Ray has mentored and those in his general fan base will continue to be watered and brought to harvest even in his retirement from the game of football.  Keep doing what you do Ray!

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