Thursday, September 16, 2004

Even more quotes -- the Ray Lewis chronicles

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (subscription req'd) was on a conference call with the Ravens' Ray Lewis to discuss this weekend's game against the Steelers. Seriously, you sometimes forget how smart Ray Lewis really is ("football" smarts, not "I know how to pick my friends without someone getting killed" smarts) because all you see is his blurred image flying all over the field making big play after big play. Anyway, he doesn't come off as the guy you see on Sunday afternoons who looks to be hopped up on crazy juice; instead he comes across as an intelligent guy who just so happens to beat the crap out of people for a living (and he does it very effectively).

That said, he still had to answer the perfunctory stupid question from a member of the media (although I doubt this question would have been asked face-to-face):

Q: What happened up in Cleveland?

LEWIS: We lost.
Nice. The only thing I love better than the question is the answer. Ideally, if you were in on the conference call and the reporter who asked this dumb question was face-to-face with Ray-Ray, you'd like to hear, "So, what happened up in Cleveland?" followed by what sounds like chairs being knocked over and the reporter's garbled words coming over the intercom only as "what...what are you doing? Noooo!" And then Ray get's back on the line and says, "Next question."

I'm getting a little far afield here, but I think it's important. Some people think that in order to keep evildoers from committing crimes, it's important to punish them immediately after it happens (the thinking goes that people impulsive enough to steal a car probably don't consider a jail sentence of a couple of months two years from now such a big deal). Anyway, we should have a similar rule for journalists who ask idiotic questions. But instead of sending them to conventional jails or prisons, we instead enforce the Ray-Ray rules. As soon as the last word leaves Mark Madden's the reporter's lips, security guards are immediately dispatched to take them in for their punishment -- which could simply be letting them don some pads, and spend an afternoon as the running back on the scout team -- with no offensive line (I imagine it would look something like this photo below). I figure that should do the trick. Of course if Mark Madden is the culprit I imagine it would be Ray-Ray who would be begging for mercy after a few one-on-ones.

Which brings me to another point. I know Madden's been marginalized since getting canned by the Post-Gazette, but he's still a lot of fun to talk about. Why is it never the case that he takes his condescending, insolent tone with those athletes he routinely insults, on a face-to-face basis? I'm not positive, but I think it has something to do with having to suck his Big Macs through a straw for six months.

Alright, enough already with getting off-topic. Here's some more of the Ray Lewis interview that I found interesting:

Q: What about losing Kelly Gregg?

LEWIS: For me personally, that effect is personal. That is my bread and butter, Kelly Gregg is the one who makes me run and tick. And he is not going to be there so you know that we are going to have to go to a younger guy. The younger guys have been around two or three years, Kemo (Maake Kemoeatu), Margues Douglas, and (Aubrayo) Franklin, so it won't be that big of an issue but it is just something about not having your cornerstone there.
I never would have guessed in a million years that Lewis was so close to this short, stout white guy who wears his football pants up around his neck.

Here are two more really goofy questions that wouldn't have been asked if the Ray-Ray rules were in full effect.

Q: Are those easily correctable mistakes?

LEWIS: It is already corrected actually. We understand that on our defense that every piece of our defense has to be in the exact place on every play. And on those two plays it wasn't.

Q: You're not going to want to see Jerome scoring all those 1-yard touchdowns?

LEWIS: If you keep getting in those 1-yard situations, I can't stop them anyway. One yard is 1 yard. It is challenging to stop someone from 1 yard. I hope that we can stop them from getting to that situation.
What is it with this "Are these problems correctible" nonsense? How can you ask that after the first game of the season? I said as much yesterday because the same question was asked of Cowher concerning the Steelers' defensive backfield. Is there some epidemic going around that I don't know about where defensive backs are making mistakes that are irreversible?

And I love Lewis' comment about 1-yard gains. If arguably the best player in the world says that not even he can stop 1-yard plays, then that means that question should never be asked again.

Q: What is like having Kordell (Stewart) on your team?

LEWIS: It is definitely different. You know that this is a guy that I have been playing against for years in some classic battles. And if I'm correct he won the majority of them. The thing is just having him now. He is so versatile and he has so much knowledge of the game. Everybody goes through up and down years, however we want to weigh them out, but this guy is a guy that has been there. He has taken Pittsburgh to championship games and things like that, so it is just great to have him around.

Q: Are you worried about your offense at all?

LEWIS: No, not really. Don't ever let me brush it off like I'm not a team player, but at the same time things are going to be what they are going to be, truly. We went through the same thing in 2000 where we had the similar situation with our offense struggling. If they struggle, let them struggle and my thing is that the defense has no room for error, period. We can complicate a lot of things, but some things we can't either.
The answer to the first question is really, "It's awful. He's a nice enough guy, but he makes Kyle Boller look like Johnny Unitas in practice." The answer to the second question is, "Hell yeah, wouldn't you be? Did you see the Browns game?"

Finally, Lewis is asked about "Prime-Time" (by the way, I'm lobbying for Deion's new nickname to be: Deion "If I'm still Prime-Time then my programming only includes 'Saved by the Bell' and 'Punky Brewster'" Sanders. It's a little wordy, but I'm working on tightening it up. Suggestions welcome):

Q: What does Deion (Sanders) bring to the defense?

LEWIS: I think he brings -- outside of what everybody else thinks he brings -- he brings wisdom and an understanding to the defensive backs on how to study film, how to read things, and how to make a receiver work on every play instead of giving them a free route off the ball. Anybody can just go out and run a free route and catch the ball. He is really showing these guys how to make people work off the ball and to make a receiver earn everything that they get.
You know what's funny? Much like politicians have talking point from which they don't waver, the Ravens have a similar mantra. It goes something like this, "Deion is the greatest cornerback ever. He's taught our guys more in one phone conversation from looking at preseason footage than they've learned in their time in the league." To me this shouts a couple of things. First, doesn't it make more sense to make Deion a coach then? And maybe more importantly, what does this say about the current defensive backs coach? He should be made to give back his salary and demoted to hot dog vendor. And perhaps most importantly, if Deion's so smart, why didn't he tell Ed Reed and Gary Baxter they were about to get burned on those two big pass plays against the Browns?

Of course I don't have any answers, but I do enjoy asking the inane questions -- just so long as they're not inane enough to invoke the Ray-Ray rules. Oh yeah, and I hope the Ravens get smoked Sunday.