Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis announced last week that he was retiring from football. ESPN immediately signed him to a contract to become one of their analysts on their nearly unwatchable pre- and post-game shows. Commentators, many of whom appear to have never seen Lawrence Taylor play, stated that Lewis was the greatest linebacker ever. And countless stories spoke of Lewis as the inspirational teammate, the great leader who did great things for his team and the city of Baltimore.
On Wednesday, the newest members of the Baseball Hall of Fame will be announced. One of the names on the ballot for the very first time is Barry Bonds. Bonds is, without any doubt, one of the greatest players to ever play baseball -- multiple-MVP awards, the all-time home run king, the single-season home run record, and on and on. But Bonds will not be announced as one of the new members of the Hall of Fame this week.
What does Lewis have to do with Bonds? Lewis is deified and will likely go into the NFL Hall of Fame on the first ballot. Bonds is evil. He is the man who helped to ruin and despoil baseball, and he may never be inducted into the Baseball of Fame.
The perception of both players by the general public, and by the media, is rather strange. All Bonds did was take PEDs and be convicted on charges of obstructing justice in the investigation of his PED usage. Lewis was also found to have obstructed justice, but he obstructed a murder investigation.
So, why is Bonds vilified and Lewis is glorified? ESPN's not going to sign Bonds to be on a studio show anytime soon. Bonds will not be doing any commercials with Paul Rudd. But Bonds didn't cover up the murder of the two people like Ray Lewis. All that Bonds did was take PEDs.
One simple reason for this is that Bonds is a jerk. He didn't get along with the media. He didn't get along with his teammates or coaches. He's surly. He's a prick. But once again, all that he did was take PEDs. Like Andy Pettitte, who is celebrated by the baseball media. Like Miguel Tejada, who is celebrated for his love of playing baseball.
But damn it, Ray Lewis obstructed a murder investigation. And Lewis wasn't just an ordinary witness. Lewis was originally arrested and charged with the murder. Nobody knows for sure who really murdered those two kids at that post-Super Bowl party in Atlanta in 2000. And that's because Lewis obstructed the damn investigation.
Barry Bonds might have been a world-class jerk to the delicate flowers of the Baseball Writers Association of America. But so was Ted Williams. And it's pretty well documented that one of the worst human beings ever was Ty Cobb. So being an ass shouldn't prevent a player from being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
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And the crap about Bonds and PEDs and despoiling the game of baseball is a vapid, nonsensical and moralistic argument made by those who have absolutely no knowledge of baseball history. Willie Mays and Hank Aaron used amphetamines. Gaylord Perry admitted to throwing an illegal pitch, the spitball, while he was still playing, and all three easily made the Hall of Fame.
Meanwhile, Lewis is beloved by all. He's a go-to quote. He'll go into the Hall of Fame the first year that he's eligible. And sure, maybe he never did PEDs, but he covered up the murder of two men. So I ask, once again, why is Lewis deified and Bonds vilified?
There's no doubt that Ray Lewis is a great football player, but Barry Bonds was a great baseball player. Lewis deserves to go into the Hall of Fame. So does Bonds. Lewis is supposedly a great human being. Bonds is supposedly an ass. But while Bonds's life and career will be forever defined by the PEDs, Lewis's past is glossed over despite his crime being much, much worse than anything Bonds ever did.
So the ultimate answer seems to be that a person can literally get away with murder (or covering up a murder) and be forgiven and deified if that person is charismatic and kisses up to the media. But if a person should dare be a jerk and take PEDs, then the person will be forever branded the worst person alive.