"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." -- Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis to ESPN's Sal Paolantonio
Well, that's a new one.
I've heard that losing a season will result in lost time (and earnings) that players with a short career span anyway will never be able to get back. I've heard that losing a season will take all of the momentum the NFL has built as the marquee professional sports brand in this country and minimally bring it back to the NBA/MLB/NHL pack.
But this is the first time I've heard that losing an NFL season will result in a less safe society than that in which we currently live.
But leave it to Ray Lewis to not only theorize as such, but also actually have me believing by the end of the interview that I'll get held up at gunpoint this fall if somehow the Texans and Colts game opening weekend doesn't come off.
Here's the interview in its entirety...
It sounds a little silly, doesn't it? Society is so wrapped up in the NFL and living so vicariously through all of these gladiators that if we are deprived of them come September, America in general will fill its idle time with looting, assault and other violent crimes. Never mind that theoretically the only day of the week the NFL provides a true "day long" distraction is Sunday, which even during an active season means we have six other days to get our crime on.
So normally I would dismiss this as a professional football player's overinflated sense of self-worth and the worth of his profession. Normally.
However, this is Ray Lewis, and I have at least a few good reasons to buy in:
1. Ray Lewis knows a thing or two about crime. In 2000, at the Super Bowl in Atlanta, many remember a fight breaking out between Lewis and another group of people, ultimately resulting in the stabbing deaths of two men. After being arrested and indicted for murder, Lewis was eventually able to plead his way down to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice, a one-year probation and a $250,000 fine. Also, he eventually reached a civil settlement with the families of the two men who were killed. (As a sidebar, the bloody white suit Lewis had on that night was never found.) My point is Ray Lewis has been near at least two stabbing deaths in his lifetime, which alone makes him more of an authority on crime than I am.
2. Per Rich Connelly earlier today...
Nationally violent crime dropped 5.5 percent; in Texas six percent and in Houston the drop was 5.9 percent.
In Houston, the number of crimes were down in all the categories in the report: murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft and motor vehicle theft.
The total number of incidents dropped from 2009's 146,526 to 2010's 137,814.
Last I checked, there was NFL football in the period from 2009 to 2010. And crime went down. If that is true, then so too must be the opposite -- therefore, if there is no football in 2011, expect crime to increase nationally by 5.5 percent, in Texas by six percent and in Houston by 5.9 percent.
I can tell from his meticulous attention to detail in his rant that Lewis is aware of these statistics.
3. Saturday night, former Bears and current free agent running back Garrett Wolfe was arrested for retail theft, disorderly conduct, assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest, according to information released by the Miami-Dade police. Last I checked, Garrett Wolfe lives vicariously through Garrett Wolfe! Ray Lewis is a visionary!
4. Finally, and most importantly, I buy into Ray Lewis's theory about crime increasing during the lockout because...well, because he's Ray Lewis and, frankly, he scares the ever-loving shit out of me. He could tell me that unicorns are going to be America's favorite house pet in 2012 and, out of fear, I'd immediately call PetSmart to find out if they have any good horn covers.
It's that last one that gives me hope that the lockout will soon end -- the whole "Ray Lewis is a frightening human being" thing.
In the interview with Paolantonio:
Lewis hasn't attended any of the mediation sessions between the owners and players and hasn't gone to court for any of the legal proceedings -- but that might change.
"I'm not opposed to it," he said.
He also said he has texted NFL Players Association leader DeMaurice Smith.
"Tell me when you're ready for me to come speak," Lewis said when asked to explain the nature of the texts to Smith. "Because I'm not speaking about all, oh I want this, I want that."
When does Smith want Lewis to speak?
"Oh ... the time coming," Lewis said and then smiled for emphasis.
Now that I want to see. Thirty-two owners soiling themselves while Ray Lewis screams them into lockout submission. I'm in.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from noon to 3 p.m. and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.