77 Comments

Celebrating Brian Urlacher, Hall of Famer

| August 4th, 2018

Brian Urlacher will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this evening, the culmination of one of the great careers in the history of the Chicago Bears.

Over the next two days I want to use the comments section below to allow fans to share their favorite Urlacher plays, stories, moments…etc. Anything about Brian that resonated with you.

For me, I never forgot seeing #54 pick off Chad Pennington in the end zone at Giants Stadium in 2006, no more than 40 yards from where I was sitting. It was just one of the many times an Urlacher play completely turned a game on its head. (The play can be found at the :30 mark of the video below.)



On behalf of myself and the DBB team, congrats Brian. And thank you.

I’ll share some of the best comments re: Urlacher in game previews throughout the season.

Tagged: , ,

  • KentuckyBearsFan

    Lach!!!!

  • That Guy

    I think he should get props for fucking Paris Hilton and Jenny McCarthy, both when they were decent to look at, and before their vaginas got hollowed out by dozens of others.

    That must have been, like, his personal Afghanistan, fucking those two and not getting an STD. Talk about dodging landmines. Unless he wore condoms thicker than his helmet.

    • Irish Sweetness

      If Paris Hilton got drunk and wanted to fuck me … I’d be like, no …. you ain’t hittin’ this.

      • That Guy

        At some point, she didn’t have the herp, and might have been worth the ride. Dumb girls with daddy issues can be wild.

  • Irish Sweetness

    Is there a Hip-Hop HOF?

    Chuck D – founder of Public Enemy – first ballot. 58 and still’ spinnin’ it, yo.

    https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2018/07/happy-birthday-chuck-d-listen-to-public-enemy-ragi.html

    • KentuckyBearsFan

      Chuck D deserves to be in every Hall of Fame.

      I’m protesting until he makes the Country Hall of Fame.

    • Cue the Chuck D!

  • Irish Sweetness

    Lach memories?

    My favorite was listening to it live on radio, the Arizona Miracle. Six turnovers on offense and five from the Master of Disaster himself. Smallhands.

    Can’t pick a single play, he’s more than that. 25 tackles. Lac lifted the defense and made them believe that they could win a game where the offense didn’t score – the defense and ST was that good.

  • Russian Hacked Pacebot 2.0

    My favorite was when he poisoned half the locker room against Cutler in 2009 because he was pissed that Kyle Fucking Orton got traded.

  • Fisherman695

    Brian was good and fast. Right up there with Mike S. and Dick B.

  • leftcoastdave

    Good takes on two of the misdirection plays from Thursday night and what is to come.

    https://beargoggleson.com/2018/08/04/chicago-bears-a-glimpse-into-the-matt-nagy-upgrade/

    • SC Dave

      Much ado about nothing

  • beninnorcal

    Most would point to the MNF game against the Cards, and rightfully so because he dominated that game like so few defenders ever do.
    But my favorite memory came the year before, in 2005, at home against the Falcons on SNF. He was spying Mike Vick(in his physical prime) most of the game and rendered him useless, for the most part.
    That game really showed his sideline-to-sideline ability. He was a very dominant player, asked to do A LOT, and he did, really well, in fact.

    • Big Mike

      The rest of the league could not stop Vick, they tried spying him, without success. The difference, Urlacher’s speed and reaction time was that much better than every other LB in the league.

      • Lach broke the mold. There simply aren’t 6’4 250 LBs who run and cover like safeties.

        IF Tre Edmunds lives up to his potential, maybe he has a chance

  • KentuckyBearsFan

    I remember when Urlacher was drafted and no one was quite sure what position he was going to play.

    Journalists were thinking…uh…maybe safety?

    And I think middle linebacker was obvious before the season even started.

    • Who started in front of him? Good trivia question

      • John F

        Two REALLY big dudes …… one of whom used to be a linebacker

        • No I mean I think he couldn’t beat out Minter.

          Traylor -Washington were fun to watch tho.

          I don’t really get why a team doesn’t try for two huge NTs like that flanked by speed rushers (maybe in the wide 9 to be isolated)

          Then again Goldman and Hicks are about 320 each

          • JAB

            He was originally put at strong side LB and couldn’t beat out Roosevelt Colvin and then minter went down with an injury and Urlacher took over and never looked back. He really was something special to watch.

  • Big Mike

    This clip has one of his interceptions from early in his career, right after the interception in his last season against the Titans. The difference in speed, gait, running style , his knees weren’t right.

    • The game I knew it was over for him was the SEA game when Wilson was a rook. Him trying to chase him down was like an old Lion trying to corner a young gazelle.

  • BerwynBomber

    Greatest Bear since Payton, IMO. No offense to the other ’85 Bears. But Lach was that special of an athlete.

    • ButtonShoes

      No argument here. Only one that comes closest in my eyes to Sweetness and then Lach is Peanut.

  • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis

    My favorite play by Urlacher was not a play but a penalty. Pretty sure it was 2006, Lach was chasing down a QB and right after he threw it Lach pushed him. Yellow Flag, penalty description 15-yard Personal Foul Roughing the passer because he “flexed his arm muscles”

    I believe it was a Vikings Game and the QB was one of the Johnson boys. Don’t hold me to that because it was so long ago.

    • That Guy

      Yep, I remember that one. Hochuli trying to be all hyperverbal, sounding like a complete doof.

      I had it in my head it was Favre — or at least some other big-name QB, because Hochuli tends to be really quick with the flags to protect the big names & the shield.

  • SC Dave

    The ultimate Urlacher moment for me was my avatar for a couple of seasons.

    Holding the Halas Trophy high at Soldier Field in 2006.

  • SC Dave

    Couldn’t hear a word, but Ur got on that dropped paper like it was a fumble.

  • ButtonShoes

    There’s no one favorite memory of Urlacher. There’s just too many to count. He would just take off like a fucking Tomahawk missile and put the fear of GOD into other teams, and it was a joy to watch. Watching him make Favre and Rodgers miserable was a special highlight. You know, Singletary may have won us a Super Bowl…but Lach was better. He was the best. He IS the best.

    • R. Lewis

      Ray Lewis was better on and off the field!

      • ButtonShoes

        Wrong on both counts!

        • R. Lewis

          Ray has more Rings, more DPOY, longer career, more Pro Bowls, more INTs, more FF, more tackles, more Playoff appearances, more 1st Team All-Pro, and a better intro Dance!

          Ray has lead, for the most part, a good christian life, and never been sued for $125 million for portraying one of his baby mamas as a murder

          • More murders too, which sorta cancels out the rest

          • R. Lewis

            He was setup by racist police just trying to keep the black man down.

  • AlbertInTucson

    I understand Ray Lewis rambled on, and preached,for over half an hour.

    Surprise, surprise, surprise!

    Hall Of Fame Linebacker.

    Hall of Fame Hypocrite.

  • BerwynBomber

    A nice night but I can’t watch those things in full. No offense to any of this year’s class. But most of them aren’t made for speaking or the stage.

    Did see Lach get a little misty-eyed when he came out on the stage to do the statue unveiling with Babich. Nice moment.

    Highlight was Moss ALMOST getting Belichick to cry. He came damn close. That would have been an all-timer.

    Never got Father Ray’s shtick. Pretty much concur with Jeff. Seems phony. But then again, I never bought BMarsh’s stuff either. Certain dudes whose sincerity will always ring hollow.

  • AlbertInTucson

    My favorite Urlacher moment?

    So many to choose from.

    The 85 yard pick six against Narcissus is greatr.

    But so is this, which I call:

    “You should have retired before you saw ME again, Brett”

    http://archive.jsonline.com/sports/packers/112215844.html/

  • Irish Sweetness

    Fkn Terrell shows up at the HOF??!!

    GTFO!&%%#$!

  • Irish Sweetness

    https://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-network-shows

    Brian’s speech (right-hand bar)

    Lovie looks great in a beard!

  • Russian Hacked Pacebot 2.0

    LaCanfora reporting that bears in talks to bring back Jay Cutler as back up quarterback after the dismal outing by Chase Daniels and Tyler Bray in the HOF Game. Reports are that Cutler would be looking for guaranteed money between 5.5 and 7.5 million dollars.

    • Maybe Pace can throw a 1st RDer to the Packers to close the deal.
      No, that has nothing to do with it, but, sure, why not?

      • Russian Hacked Pacebot 2.0

        Pace was in talks just last weekend to just give the Packers a draft pick in 2019 for the fuck of it. GB was like, “what do you want in return?”
        Pace be like, “um, nothing , why would I want something in return, we’re just giving up an asset….?”

    • beninnorcal

      Seriously? That would be pretty hilarious to see how mad some fans would get over the Bears paying him more money.
      I’m still a fan. Far from perfect he was, but I liked the dude.

      • The dude abides…

        I actually think Deadspin’s “Why your team sucks” portrayed Jay best

        awwwwwwwww yeaaaaahhh

        You’ll never be rid of him, Chicago. He has 30 years and $567
        buttzillion left on his current contract. Even getting benched for Jimmy
        Clausen—now the proud owner of half a skull—wasn’t
        enough send Jay Cutler packing forever. This man plays quarterback with
        the same amount of urgency that Adam Sandler puts into his film roles.
        One day, Cutler will just amble out onto the field in cargo shorts and
        demand to hand the ball off to Rob Schneider. It’s coming. I can feel
        it. He’ll never leave Chicago. He’ll build a patio at midfield and just
        hang out for the next two decades, grilling burgers while the Bears lose
        every game by 36 points. I kinda love him. If I were that rich, I’d be
        that lazy.-

      • Russian Hacked Pacebot 2.0

        Naw, we’re all good. We are rolling with Trubisky, Daniels and Bray. Let’s do this !!!!!

  • So pumped to see our new draft pick being the next Lach!

    • Russian Hacked Pacebot 2.0

      Fucking pumped! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

        • Russian Hacked Pacebot 2.0

          When was the last time a team didn’t sign a player? Do we have to put him back on the shelf?

          • I can’t even remember the last draftee who didn’t sign, not even under the old system when they became the highest paid player on the team automatically.

            I’m not surprised by this. Roq and his agent saw Pace as a mark.

  • Russian Hacked Pacebot 2.0

    Rotoworld releasing a damning internal memo by NFL Rules Committee member Jeff Fisher that recommended that teams field at least 36% or 4 of 11 players on the field at one time be non-minority players. When pressed for info during the meeting Fisher commented….”you know, like white guys with high motors, smart Asians from one of the military schools or a random international rugby player who doesn’t know what the fuck they are doing”.
    The goal being to slow down the game, decrease violent collisions and overall to stop meaningful plays from happening that could possibly end up in injury.

  • Juan Stone

    Good morning Lady and Gentlemen.

    Before I enter into some Bears talk, I have a brief statement I wish to make. To those who are not concerned, please excuse me while I offer up this brief statement to whom it may concern..

    Dear friends,

    Over the past 8 or 9 years, at times, due to error, carelessness, ignorance or just flat out stupidity, I have slandered, criticized and trespassed against multiple posters, religions, people groups, politicians, personalities and associations while using this blog as a form of communication. I also wish to offer up an apology if at any time, I have wrongly criticized Jeff for his public work as well as the work of others through my words. I have been guilty of these offenses for various reasons, sometimes on purpose and sometimes due to carelessness but mainly it was due to my ignorance as a man, trying to make sense of this complicated world. I will try to gaurd against doing so again in the future.

    To those of you whom I have missed the mark of cordial correspondence in the past concerning this public notice, please accept my heart felt apologies.

    I love you all deeply and may all charity, love, life and compassion be with you.

    Signed, Trac, aka Saurons left eye, Juan Stone, etc., etc, etc.

    Oh, and Go Bears!

    • beninnorcal

      I can’t keep ‘trac’ of everybody’s names on here anymore. We need a thread where everyone identifies their original handles so I can keep up.

      • AlbertInTucson

        I second that emotion.

      • Juan Stone

        Lol. Hmm…. That would be difficult since I don’t remember all my old names but I’m sure Jeff’s handler has a master file tucked away somewhere. Hee hee

      • Irish Sweetness

        Yep. I had no idea that was Trac, and GP changed his, everyone changes theirs, too often.

        Expecting people to keep up with the changes …. I don’t know how they do.

        Maybe that’s the point?

    • Trac, it’s the interwebs, tbh, nobody holds anonymous ukranian bots responsible, even for election rigging, so whatever you’ve said, nobody likely remembers.

      aside from your nutty NWO tin foil hat Evangelical conspiracy theories (which only differ in themes from Irish’s Fed Tall Whites in Vegas theory), don’t think you’ve written anything to get anyone’s panties in a bunch.

      I have typed way more shit to piss a lot more ppl off, and I ain’t about to apologise!

      YOLO

      see. like right there, i spelled apologise like I was English, but, sure, why not

      Dark web…

    • Russian Hacked Pacebot 2.0

      Trac, this post makes me think you went off the high dive into a huge vat of Makers Mark in the recent past. Apologizing to us? Us? Hell naw…

      • Juan Stone

        Correction Yonny, just apologizing for my ignorance. It’s a good thing, trust me.

  • catfish44

    Athletes should face the music just like the rest of us. THE ARE NOT GODS!!
    ”Ray Lewis will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday evening, the result of a vote by the Hall of Fame committee made up of 48 of the most experienced NFL journalists in the business. Most of the men and women voting in that room in Minnesota in February, as well as others in our profession, had the opportunity over the last 18 years to question Lewis about his conviction on charges of obstruction of justice related to the slayings of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar in Atlanta during Super Bowl week in 2000. But rarely over those 18 years was Lewis ever pushed by members of the NFL media to respond seriously to questions about his actions that night, about the missing white coat, about the deaths of Baker and Lollard.

    I get it. Press conferences are awkward affairs, and everyone there has questions to ask, stories to write. When a player ends a media scrum abruptly because he doesn’t like a question, the reporter can feel as though he has denied his colleagues the opportunity to do their jobs. Yet press conferences are often the only chance to ask prominent players necessary questions that hold them accountable and might make them uncomfortable. That’s why last week during a media scrum at Patriots training camp, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe asked Tom Brady about Julian Edelman’s PED suspension and connection to Brady trainer Alex Guerrero. Brady brushed off the question, and promptly ended the interview session. Volin faced criticism from fans who accused him of grandstanding. This is by design. The NFL and its teams prefer to limit media opportunities, as much as possible, to group settings, in part to suppress reporters and prevent them from asking the questions that make subjects feel uncomfortable.

    Volin faced criticism from fans who accused him of grandstanding. This is by design. The NFL and its teams prefer to limit media opportunities, as much as possible, to group settings, in part to suppress reporters and prevent them from asking the questions that make subjects feel uncomfortable.I faced this dilemma in January 2013, during my first season on the NFL beat. It was Lewis’s last season in the NFL, and the Ravens were making a playoff run that would ultimately end in a Super Bowl victory. The NFL commissioner was talking about Lewis in glowing terms, discussing a future role in the league office for the linebacker. My editor at USA Today, Kevin Manahan, sent investigative reporter Brent Schrotenboer to interview the family of the Atlanta victims, to see how they felt about Lewis and the praise he was receiving. It is customary and ethical to give the subject of such a story an opportunity to comment, the chance to respond to criticism. My job was to get a comment from Lewis on the family’s position that he was not forgiven for his role in the killings.

    I considered going through the team with the request, but I knew the relationship the media relations staff had with Lewis, and I doubted I’d get a response. I thought about asking the question at his weekly press conference, but those occasions drew 30 to 40 reporters at the time, and I didn’t want to get in the way of them doing their jobs. I thought I’d be accused of grandstanding, and I thought it would be awkward to ask such an explosive question before such a large audience. So I did something that was against the unwritten rules. I went to Ray’s locker on a day he wasn’t scheduled to speak to media, and I asked him if he had a moment to speak privately. I told him I had a sensitive question. These are direct quotes from the notes we later sent to the NFL:

    “Ray, may I speak to you privately about something serious?” I asked. “Just go ahead,” he said. I continued: “We’re doing a story with interviews of the families of the victims in Atlanta. I have a few questions for you, and I want to give you an opportunity to comment.” Said Lewis: “Are you serious?” I continued: “Yes. It’s our responsibility to give you a chance to comment. Out of fairness to you.”

    “You want to talk to me about something that happened 13 years ago, right now?” Lewis shot back. “Who’s that fair to, me or you?” I told him it was fair to him. “You’re a public figure, and a subject of an emotionally charged story,” I said. “You should have the opportunity to comment.” Said Lewis: “Respectfully, this is my space, you need to go find your space right now.”

    I said okay and walked out of locker room. A Ravens media relations staffer followed me into the hallway. “Robert,” he said, “if you ever pull some bulls— like that, you will never come in this locker room again.” I told him I didn’t understand, and he pressed harder, sticking his finger in my face. “First of all, you know Ray is off limits,” he said. “Second of all, why are you asking questions about murders that happened 13 years ago?” I told him all I did was ask a question, and Lewis declined comment. “That’s it,” he said. “You’re not going back in that locker room today. Get out of here.”

    Another media relations staffer then walked up to me. ”What are you asking questions about that for?” he asked me. “Why is that a story?” I said, “You really want me to explain that?” He nodded. I’d been reading my Society of Professional Journalists code, the one they taught us in college, in preparation for just such a question. I had an answer: “Because our responsibility is to give voice to the voiceless, and to tell the story of the diversity of the human experience boldly.” He was unimpressed. “You should get out of here if he says you can’t go back in,” he said.

    My editors went to the league, and then to the Ravens, demanding an apology. None came. My credential, however, was waiting for me for that week’s playoff game in Denver. I went into the Ravens locker room on Saturday after they won that game in overtime. I walked over to outside linebacker Paul Kruger for an interview, Then a Ravens PR staffer and linebacker Terrell Suggs called Kruger over. When he returned to his locker, he said he couldn’t talk to me. “Sorry, gotta go with the vets,” he said. I walked over to the staffer. We argued. Players around us raised their voices at me. Then Lewis walked out in a towel. He put a hand on my shoulder and delivered a line I’ll never forget.“Whatever you’re saying, I forgive you,” Lewis told me. “You were No. 1 in my prayers last night. You don’t have to apologize.”

    I said, “I’m not sorry, and I’m not going to apologize for doing my job. If you want to have a private conversation, I’m all for it.” Lewis turned away, and two teammates attempted to shove me out of the locker room, with the PR guy standing between them, facing me instead of turning the players away. I realized I wasn’t going to accomplish anything there, and I walked out.

    For 13 years, Ray Lewis had hidden from his history. He hid behind his talent. He hid behind his religion. Most effectively, he hid behind his team’s PR staff. His case isn’t rare. The league insulates players in protective bubbles, and in doing so creates its own warped sense of morality that reporters are expected to adhere to. In this bubble, a story about the lasting consequences of a player being convicted of obstruction of justice related to the death of two men can seem outlandish, even predatory on the part of the media organization. In the eyes of Ravens players and staffers, we were out to dirty Ray Lewis. They refused to acknowledge the way he’d dirtied himself and dodged questions in the public sphere for so long. For two far-away families, the deaths were devastating, life-altering events. To the Ravens, they were ancient history. attempt to hold rich, powerful men accountable for their misdeeds.

    It’s ironic that pro football writers, whose responsibilities include holding subjects like Lewis accountable, are the ones who put him in the Hall. It’s not their job, according to the bylaws, to judge players for off-field behavior. Just as it’s not the Ravens’ job to ensure their players are made available to answer for their actions. Everyone has an excuse. They’re all just following directions.

    But maybe now that the press conferences and media availabilities are over, and the only person he has to answer to is himself, Lewis will get up on the dais and do the right thing. Maybe he’ll find the courage to address the questions he and others have fought so hard to avoid.

    Ray, I encourage you to pray on it.”———-https://www.si.com/nfl/2018/08/04/ray-lewis-hall-fame-weekend-atlanta-murders
    .

    • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis

      Jesus, just link the damn article, no need to copy and paste the whole damn thing into a comment.

      • SC Dave

        Would you have read it?

        • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis

          Yep. I actually read it yesterday when Jeff referenced it in one of his tweets.

        • Irish Sweetness

          Isn’t it up to us if we want to read an article, Dave?

          • SC Dave

            Same thing about a post, Irish. You could just not read it.

          • Irish Sweetness

            In fairness, posting an entire article when a link would do would usually be the thing.

            For example, I didn’t read it. Posting the whole thing didn’t make me read it.

      • AlbertInTucson

        I I don’t see the problem.

        I often just scroll past what I consider a tome.

        You can also just hit that little minus sign on the right and collapse the post.

  • willbest

    LVPD closes investigation without finding motive… I guess that way they don’t have to present any evidence beyond what they have, when they don’t bother explaining what they didn’t find. The conspiracies on this are going to rival JFK. I am leaning towards government asset, but I could be sold on an antipsychotic that Big Pharma is covering up.

    • I don’t know if you read my crazy conspiracy theory, but I think he was a gun runner for the Saudi Familly, and that it was supposed to be a hit on one of the Saudis (who own the entire top floor of that building) in their power struggle (this was around the same time that prince made his power move and arrested a bunch of Saudis on “corruption” charges)

      A U.S./Saudi spook assassinating a Saudi on U.S. soil is a story NOBODY wants to air, esp when so many citizens died as a cover.

      I find it amazing that ppl seem not to care.

      In this twitter news cycle, I feel we can nuke N Korea today, and by Fri we’ll be talking about Ivanka twerking or something.

    • SC Dave
  • SC Dave

    Always loved this time of year. Better than the article (though it had its moments) is Sara’s fifth comment.

    https://deadspin.com/why-your-team-sucks-2018-new-york-giants-1827992694

  • AlbertInTucson

    Tonight is shining example of what’s wrong with Baseball: Bottom of the 9th, Yankees 4, Red Sox 1 and the game just hit 4 HOURS in length.

    • AlbertInTucson

      That said, it was fun watching the Yankees piss away a 4 -1 lead en route to getting swept out of town.

    • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis

      Why is it always a Yanks/Red Sox game? Most other games I watched this year have been around the 3 hour mark.

      • AlbertInTucson

        The Yankees and Red Sox seem to be the biggest offendes.They can play a 2-1 game and make it last 4 hours.

  • AlbertInTucson

    More Urlacher: Even after watching his entire career, while watching the interceptions in his highlights I was struck by how many of them were outstanding grabs, deep down field with hands that would have made him a formidable tight end.

  • catfish44

    Ray Lewis, and the Bubble That Has Sheltered Him
    As the Ravens great enters Canton, let’s reflect on the media environment the NFL has created that protects players from uncomfortable questions.

    As the longtime Ravens linebacker—inarguably one of the best football players in history—is inducted into the Hall of Fame, let’s take a moment to reflect on the media environment that the league and its teams have created to protect players from the uncomfortable questions it’s our job to ask
    By ROBERT KLEMKO August 04, 2018
    Ray Lewis will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday evening, the result of a vote by the Hall of Fame committee made up of 48 of the most experienced NFL journalists in the business. Most of the men and women voting in that room in Minnesota in February, as well as others in our profession, had the opportunity over the last 18 years to question Lewis about his conviction on charges of obstruction of justice related to the slayings of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar in Atlanta during Super Bowl week in 2000. But rarely over those 18 years was Lewis ever pushed by members of the NFL media to respond seriously to questions about his actions that night, about the missing white coat, about the deaths of Baker and Lollar.

    I get it. Press conferences are awkward affairs, and everyone there has questions to ask, stories to write. When a player ends a media scrum abruptly because he doesn’t like a question, the reporter can feel as though he has denied his colleagues the opportunity to do their jobs. Yet press conferences are often the only chance to ask prominent players necessary questions that hold them accountable and might make them uncomfortable. That’s why last week during a media scrum at Patriots training camp, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe asked Tom Brady about Julian Edelman’s PED suspension and connection to Brady trainer Alex Guerrero. Brady brushed off the question, and promptly ended the interview session.

    Volin faced criticism from fans who accused him of grandstanding. This is by design. The NFL and its teams prefer to limit media opportunities, as much as possible, to group settings, in part to suppress reporters and prevent them from asking the questions that make subjects feel uncomfortable.

    I faced this dilemma in January 2013, during my first season on the NFL beat. It was Lewis’s last season in the NFL, and the Ravens were making a playoff run that would ultimately end in a Super Bowl victory. The NFL commissioner was talking about Lewis in glowing terms, discussing a future role in the league office for the linebacker. My editor at USA Today, Kevin Manahan, sent investigative reporter Brent Schrotenboer to interview the family of the Atlanta victims, to see how they felt about Lewis and the praise he was receiving. It is customary and ethical to give the subject of such a story an opportunity to comment, the chance to respond to criticism. My job was to get a comment from Lewis on the family’s position that he was not forgiven for his role in the killings.

    I considered going through the team with the request, but I knew the relationship the media relations staff had with Lewis, and I doubted I’d get a response. I thought about asking the question at his weekly press conference, but those occasions drew 30 to 40 reporters at the time, and I didn’t want to get in the way of them doing their jobs. I thought I’d be accused of grandstanding, and I thought it would be awkward to ask such an explosive question before such a large audience. So I did something that was against the unwritten rules. I went to Ray’s locker on a day he wasn’t scheduled to speak to media, and I asked him if he had a moment to speak privately. I told him I had a sensitive question. These are direct quotes from the notes we later sent to the NFL:

    “Ray, may I speak to you privately about something serious?” I asked. “Just go ahead,” he said. I continued: “We’re doing a story with interviews of the families of the victims in Atlanta. I have a few questions for you, and I want to give you an opportunity to comment.” Said Lewis: “Are you serious?” I continued: “Yes. It’s our responsibility to give you a chance to comment. Out of fairness to you.”

    “You want to talk to me about something that happened 13 years ago, right now?” Lewis shot back. “Who’s that fair to, me or you?” I told him it was fair to him. “You’re a public figure, and a subject of an emotionally charged story,” I said. “You should have the opportunity to comment.” Said Lewis: “Respectfully, this is my space, you need to go find your space right now.”

    I said okay and walked out of locker room. A Ravens media relations staffer followed me into the hallway. “Robert,” he said, “if you ever pull some bulls— like that, you will never come in this locker room again.” I told him I didn’t understand, and he pressed harder, sticking his finger in my face. “First of all, you know Ray is off limits,” he said. “Second of all, why are you asking questions about murders that happened 13 years ago?” I told him all I did was ask a question, and Lewis declined comment. “That’s it,” he said. “You’re not going back in that locker room today. Get out of here.”

    Another media relations staffer then walked up to me. ”What are you asking questions about that for?” he asked me. “Why is that a story?” I said, “You really want me to explain that?” He nodded. I’d been reading my Society of Professional Journalists code, the one they taught us in college, in preparation for just such a question. I had an answer: “Because our responsibility is to give voice to the voiceless, and to tell the story of the diversity of the human experience boldly.” He was unimpressed. “You should get out of here if he says you can’t go back in,” he said.

    My editors went to the league, and then to the Ravens, demanding an apology. None came. My credential, however, was waiting for me for that week’s playoff game in Denver. I went into the Ravens locker room on Saturday after they won that game in overtime. I walked over to outside linebacker Paul Kruger for an interview, Then a Ravens PR staffer and linebacker Terrell Suggs called Kruger over. When he returned to his locker, he said he couldn’t talk to me. “Sorry, gotta go with the vets,” he said. I walked over to the staffer. We argued. Players around us raised their voices at me. Then Lewis walked out in a towel. He put a hand on my shoulder and delivered a line I’ll never forget.

    “Whatever you’re saying, I forgive you,” Lewis told me. “You were No. 1 in my prayers last night. You don’t have to apologize.”

    I said, “I’m not sorry, and I’m not going to apologize for doing my job. If you want to have a private conversation, I’m all for it.” Lewis turned away, and two teammates attempted to shove me out of the locker room, with the PR guy standing between them, facing me instead of turning the players away. I realized I wasn’t going to accomplish anything there, and I walked out.

    For 13 years, Ray Lewis had hidden from his history. He hid behind his talent. He hid behind his religion. Most effectively, he hid behind his team’s PR staff. His case isn’t rare. The league insulates players in protective bubbles, and in doing so creates its own warped sense of morality that reporters are expected to adhere to. In this bubble, a story about the lasting consequences of a player being convicted of obstruction of justice related to the death of two men can seem outlandish, even predatory on the part of the media organization. In the eyes of Ravens players and staffers, we were out to dirty Ray Lewis. They refused to acknowledge the way he’d dirtied himself and dodged questions in the public sphere for so long. For two far-away families, the deaths were devastating, life-altering events. To the Ravens, they were ancient history.
    I said, “I’m not sorry, and I’m not going to apologize for doing my job. If you want to have a private conversation, I’m all for it.” Lewis turned away, and two teammates attempted to shove me out of the locker room, with the PR guy standing between them, facing me instead of turning the players away. I realized I wasn’t going to accomplish anything there, and I walked out.

    For 13 years, Ray Lewis had hidden from his history. He hid behind his talent. He hid behind his religion. Most effectively, he hid behind his team’s PR staff. His case isn’t rare. The league insulates players in protective bubbles, and in doing so creates its own warped sense of morality that reporters are expected to adhere to. In this bubble, a story about the lasting consequences of a player being convicted of obstruction of justice related to the death of two men can seem outlandish, even predatory on the part of the media organization. In the eyes of Ravens players and staffers, we were out to dirty Ray Lewis. They refused to acknowledge the way he’d dirtied himself and dodged questions in the public sphere for so long. For two far-away families, the deaths were devastating, life-altering events. To the Ravens, they were ancient history.

    So Ray Lewis will now be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, having never addressed his actions in a way that wasn’t stage-managed, mainly because he didn’t have to. The NFL’s public relations machine made that possible, by creating an environment that limits player availability and bullies reporters who attempt to hold rich, powerful men accountable for their misdeeds.

    It’s ironic that pro football writers, whose responsibilities include holding subjects like Lewis accountable, are the ones who put him in the Hall. It’s not their job, according to the bylaws, to judge players for off-field behavior. Just as it’s not the Ravens’ job to ensure their players are made available to answer for their actions. Everyone has an excuse. They’re all just following directions.

    But maybe now that the press conferences and media availabilities are over, and the only person he has to answer to is himself, Lewis will get up on the dais and do the right thing. Maybe he’ll find the courage to address the questions he and others have fought so hard to avoid.

    Ray, I encourage you to pray on it——–https://www.si.com/nfl/2018/08/04/ray-lewis-hall-fame-weekend-atlanta-murders

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