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Ask Ray (Lewis): What's life without football?

by | CBSSports.com

I generally try not to go to Ray Lewis for advice, for the compelling reason that we live fairly disparate lives. For one, he punishes football players, and I punish couches.

Besides, who needs a lawsuit from Ray Lewis for crypto-stalking?

But he did say something to Jamison Hensley of the Baltimore Sun that I think we should all seriously consider -- starting, well, sort of now-ish.

While you're reading your one millionth draft story, Ray Lewis is busy building empires. (Getty Images)  
While you're reading your one millionth draft story, Ray Lewis is busy building empires. (Getty Images)  
Specifically, it is to find ways to not give a damn about the game for awhile. And I am proud to say I am already well on the way.

But to explain it more fully, we defer to Lewis, via Hensley, who I am sure should have a Roman numeral after his name just for cosmetic reasons:

"I would hope and pray all the guys I talk to ... the thing I try to tell them is please do something else," Lewis said after a megamall autograph session. "You have to have many things going on. To me, this is probably the greatest window of opportunity I've ever had in my life. It's been 25 years of my life that I've never had a summer to myself."

You just want to kiss him full on the lips and say, "Thank you for that." Then you want to brace yourself for the fist that flies through your face.

Face or no, I think that very thing every time I read a draft story, or the few paragraphs, or sentences, or, well, letters, of that story. I think, "Why don't these people just wander off into the woods for awhile?"

I know it is the duty of every football writer and broadcaster and rogue pundit in America to aggressively analyze and pretend and behave as though there were no labor issues. I mean, who would wake up every morning and say, "God, I can't wait to get out of bed, shower, dress, eat and race over to hear what Jeff Pash has to say?"

I mean, other than shut-ins and the imprisoned?

But the draft seems so hilariously misplaced given that the two sides in the current little spit-fest stand so steadfast in their inflexibility that every draft story or televised analysis merely makes my eyelids bleed. What the 49ers need isn't a cornerback. What the 49ers need is a chance to play a cornerback, and that looks like so minor an issue next to whether the 49ers will need a cornerback to do anything at all.

There will be a draft, of course, and it will be covered in a way that World War II only wishes it could have been covered. But every single sentence will begin with, "If there is football ...," so much so that I am starting to lean toward the Lewisian philosophy, which is to not give a damn until everything is done, sealed and delivered, and that's going to be months away.

Even the current published fulminations about mediation between the two sides are written with that "I know this isn't going to get anything done but I'm rooting for me, and I can't cope without football" desperation, so much so that I see Lewis' point:

"When you get time off, you build something different," Lewis said. "You don't sit around and say, 'If they lock us out, what are we going to do?' What we're going to do is I'm going to keep building empire after empire after empire."

OK, the empire thing is a little over the top. In fact, unless he's willing to wear a fez and a bejeweled robe and insists that he be referred to as "Pasha," I'm not all that interested in any empire he's building.


"Don't get me wrong, that's our job and I love it to death. But when somebody abuses your heart and what you do, you've got to move on. If you don't, you'll find yourself bitter and mad. That's too much."

Define "abuse" any way you want, but the message seems clear. Go do something else for awhile. Please. Cut Judge Nelson and George Cohen and all of them a psychic break and simply stop giving a damn for awhile. And if there is no football, then get another hobby. It's not like either side cares about you anyway. They care about your eyeballs and your wallet, and everything else between those two points they value as corn husks.

You would be better off heeding Ray Lewis, as weird as that seems. Go build an empire, and if the borders of that empire are the walls of your rec room, well, Luxembourg is a sovereign nation and that's no bigger than your rec room either.

Now go leave Ray Lewis alone too. He apparently has countries to invade.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.com.


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