I didn’t stay awake for the end of the Super Bowl last night — still battling jetlag a week after returning from Kuala Lumpur. But I got up early and watched a bit of SportsCenter while the espresso pot came to a boil. There was Michael Phelps, standing on the field after the game, framed by confetti. He told the reporter that the Ravens’ victory was more emotional for him than any of his 22 Olympic medals — weird. When asked why, he said because no one means more to him than Ray Lewis.
Meanwhile, I had a conversation with a friend last month who used to work at a high-end hotel that often hosted professional sports teams. He told me that the single most vile and unappealing athlete he ever saw in that job was, you guessed it, Ray Lewis.
Ray Lewis was the unquestioned victor in the two-week Super Bowl hype. In the NY Times Monday morning post mortem, there’s this gem of a line:
Lewis is victim and hypocrite, community pillar and obstructer of justice, a God-fearing man who fathered six children with four women.
Lewis’s constant professions of faith remind me, quite honestly, of Dog the Bounty Hunter, my personal reality show decadent addiction. Dog, aka Duane Chapman, talks incessantly about his faith on the show (now canceled). He prays with his family and those he apprehends on the show, and he uses all of the cliched speech of evangelicalism when he talks.
However, his children hate him — two of the children who figured heavily in the show have recently cut all ties with their father. Duane has 12 children by five women. And, more to the point, he continues to have problems with the law. In other words, in spite of his conversion, he still seems to be an asshole.
Like the Dog, Lewis seems to be milking his conversion for all it’s worth. His speech is laden with Bible verses and Christian euphemisms — when asked about the recent allegations that he’s been taking a banned substance made from deer antlers, he responded that he’s “Too blessed to be stressed.”
I did not have a dramatic conversion. Nor did I grow up in difficult circumstances, like Lewis and Chapman. The Christian faith, it seems, has been very important to them in the midst of struggles. But when I hear them talk about their Christianity, my bullshit meter hits the red area.
I’m not saying that Ray Lewis is not a Christian. I would never say that. If he confesses “Jesus is Lord,” then he’s a Christian. It’s as simple as that. I’m just saying that when I hear him talk about his faith, it seems very distant from mine.