ESPN Vetted Ray Lewis' Past Before Hiring Him As NFL Analyst
ESPN formally introduced Ray Lewis as its newest NFL analyst, but before the net hired the future HOFer, it considered his "link to a high-profile double slaying in 2000," according to Michael Hiestand of USA TODAY. ESPN NFL Senior Coordinating Producer Seth Markman said, "When you hire somebody, you vet their background. We feel the situation was fully addressed by legal authorities at the time." He added, "It was a long time ago. This is a different guy." Markman said that ESPN "began recruiting Lewis before last season." Markman: "He wanted a big role. And it was important for him to meet with all the networks and hear their visions. The advantage for us was our flexibility, given how important it was for him to be with his children." Hiestand notes Lewis "won't be at ESPN headquarters for every Sunday pregame show during the regular season." Markman said, "I promised him I'll never schedule anything that conflicts with his son's games" (USA TODAY, 3/14). In Baltimore, Aaron Wilson noted Lewis will "travel to the site" of every MNF game. He also will appear "weekly on ESPN Radio's 'Mike and Mike' program and host specials similar to the ones Jon Gruden does with quarterbacks" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 3/13). Lewis said of why he got into broadcasting, “I’ve been doing TV my whole life. Honestly, I’ve been watching TV my whole life and I've been imitating people my whole life and I just think it’s a great opportunity for me.” He added that while playing football, fans only “see one kind of personality." Lewis: "Coming to this side kind of shows a totally different personality for me and I really look forward to the opportunity” (“NFL32,” ESPN2, 3/13).
GETTING DROPPED IN THE DEEP END: Lewis made the rounds at ESPN yesterday, appearing on several different programs, and he was repeatedly asked about the Ravens' offseason moves. He said, “I see all of my former teammates signing huge deals, going here, going there, and I’m just so happy for them.” He noted Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome has does a "great job in what he does." Lewis: "At the same time, I believe he has his work cut out for him. But I think he’s up for the challenge” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 3/13). Lewis said the loss of the players by the Ravens is “more surprising because of the way it was done,” especially the way WR Anquan Boldin was traded to the 49ers. The Ravens reportedly did not call Boldin to tell him he had been traded, and Lewis said, “I know the business side takes care of itself and that’s one thing. But with all of the moves that’s being made, to do it that way...” Lewis said the franchise did a similar player turnover prior to the '01 season after winning the Super Bowl, and it "took us years as an organization to recover from that” (“NFL Live,” ESPN, 3/13).