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CBSSports.com Senior Writer

Surveyed coaches, players say Lewis comments are far-fetched


PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Call your home security company. There might not be an NFL season.

Lock up the kids.

There might not be an NFL season.

Ravens LB Ray Lewis posits that one of the consequences of a lost NFL season will be an increase in crime. (Getty Images)  
Ravens LB Ray Lewis posits that one of the consequences of a lost NFL season will be an increase in crime. (Getty Images)  
Hide the money. Put the jewels in the safe-deposit box. Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis thinks lawlessness is on the way. Get your six-shooter cleaned. The Wild, Wild West is coming.

I've heard some dumb comments by NFL players in the past, but when Lewis told ESPN's Sal Paolantonio that crime would go up if the NFL doesn't play this season, it had to rank up there with some of the worst.

If Lewis had said there might be more arrests of players without football, we'd believe him.

But more fan arrests? More crime?

Where can I get an assault rifle to make sure I am safe?

I took what Lewis said to some players and coaches here Monday for the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Celebrity Golf Tournament. On the pristine grounds of TPC Sawgrass, where I witnessed many a ball being hit into the water on the famed No. 17 hole, I wanted to know if NFL people thought Lewis was as off-base as I did.

Most did, but some weren't so sure.

"It's a little exaggerated," Giants defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said. "It's not too far-fetched to think not having an institution like the NFL to take up time during the day could do something. There is going to be some negative consequences from a social aspect."

"I don't know if he was as serious as the media made it out to be," Tampa Bay offensive tackle Jeremy Trueblood said. "But I guess it's a possibility. What else are people going to do on Sunday?"

Go to the beach? Watch a movie? Yard work? Cut their toenails?

Last time I checked those are all better options than, say, robbing a bank or stealing your neighbor's stereo.

Look, we love the NFL. It is a way of life for a lot of us. But to think without it we'd become a society of criminals is absurd.

"I wouldn't go that strong to say that crime is going to increase," Bucs receiver Michael Clayton said. "That's a little too much."

Some players simply laughed at the notion that crime rates would go up.

"The crime rate will go up if there is no football?" asked Jacksonville Jaguars special-teams ace Montell Owens. "He said that? I didn't hear that. I haven't really given that much thought. I'm sure they'll [the fans] find something else to do."

If Lewis truly believes that, shouldn't he have facts showing that crime numbers increase when there are no NFL games from February to July? Is there data to back that up?

"I don't know how he [Lewis] can make that kind of determination without having a lot more facts," Kiwanuka said.

I don't either. But just in case, I'm going to take Owens up on his offer.

"You live in Jacksonville, right?" he said. "I'll protect you."

Whew! Now I don't have to get the brass knuckles and take martial arts classes.

But you better do something to be ready for the lawlessness.

Ray Lewis said it's coming. And isn't he a top sociologist and not just the best middle linebacker ever?

Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and is the self-anointed star of CBS Sports' show, Eye on Football. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.

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