Ray Lewis, the manically intense middle linebacker from the Baltimore Ravens, will go down as one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history. But he might want to stay away from sociology.
In an interview with ESPN, Lewis suggested that the NFL lockout could cause a spike in crime. “Do this research,” Lewis said. “If we don’t have a season. Watch how much evil, which we call crime, how much crime picks up, if you take away our game. There’s nothing else to do.”
Lewis offered no evidence from prior work stoppages that crime rose when the NFL season shut down. “I don’t know how he [Lewis] can make that kind of determination without having more facts,” New York Giants defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka told CBS Sports, in response to Lewis’ comments. If the current dispute between owners and the players crept into the season, forcing the cancellation of games, the economic impact would be harsh for the stadium workers and local retail establishments who serve fans on game-day. There will be significant spillover effects. But would a bored populace turn to street looting because the Steelers aren’t on TV?
Lewis, a passionate guy who loves the game, his teammates, and Baltimore fans, should be careful. For the most part, public opinion has sided with the players in this standoff. The NFL is booming, yet management wants to take money away from the players, to boost the bottom line. Any working stiff can relate to the union’s gripe.
But once players start spouting nonsense, feelings can shift. The 1999 NBA lockout, for example, is best remembered for the tone deaf comments of the players. Kenny Anderson complained that he might have to sell a car from his fleet. Said Patrick Ewing, the then- players association president, “Sure, we make a lot of money, but we spend a lot, too.”
We all want to see Ray Lewis back on the football field, scowling on our televisions, taking great pleasure in pummeling the quarterback. But if we can’t, feel free to go outside. You won’t see crime on Sunday afternoons in September. Only sunshine.